Journal Article

High-speed broadband availability, Internet activity among older people, quality of life and loneliness

June 4, 2022

New Media & Society, 2022

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Using data from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), linked to administrative data on high-speed broadband availability from infrastructure maps, this study examines patterns of Internet uses and psychosocial outcomes for over 3500 people aged 50 plus across Ireland. High-speed broadband availability is associated with higher reported levels of home Internet access, greater frequency of Internet use and more engagement with Internet activities. Controlling for demographic and socio-economic circumstances, regression models show that quality of life is higher among daily users of the Internet. Little association is found with loneliness. Quality of life is higher among users of Internet-based communication applications such as email and video calls, and there is some evidence that loneliness may be less pronounced among users of these applications. The findings are consistent with the view that digital engagement can enhance the lives of older people and thus may be supportive of policies and interventions to address potential ‘grey’ digital divides.