Internet use, social isolation and loneliness in older adults

Stockwell, Stephanie and Stubbs, Brendon and Jackson, Sarah E. and Fisher, Abigail and Yang, Lin and Smith, Lee (2020) Internet use, social isolation and loneliness in older adults. Ageing & Society. ISSN 1469-1779

[img] Text
Accepted Version
Available under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (231kB)
Official URL:


The aim of this study was to explore associations between internet/email use in a large sample of older English adults with their social isolation and loneliness. Data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing wave 8 were used, with complete data available for 4492 men and women aged ≥ 50 years (mean age 64.3 ± 13.3 years; 51.7% males). Binomial logistic regression was used to analyse cross-sectional associations between internet/email use and social isolation and loneliness. The majority of older adults reported using the internet/email every day (69.3%), fewer participants reported once a week (8.5%), once a month (2.6%), once every three months (0.7%), less than every three months (1.5%) and never (17.4%). No significant associations were found between internet/email use and loneliness, however non-linear associations were found for social isolation. Older adults using the internet/email either once a week (OR=0.60, 95% CI 0.49-0.72) or once a month (OR=0.60, 95% CI 0.45-0.80) were significantly less likely to be socially isolated than every day users; those using internet/email less than once every three months were significantly more likely to be socially isolated than every day users (OR=2.87, 95% CI 1.28-6.40). Once every three months and never users showed no difference in social isolation compared with every day users. Weak associations were found between different online activities and loneliness, and strong associations found with social isolation. The study updated knowledge of older adults’ internet/email habits, devices used and activities engaged in online. Findings may be important for the design of digital behaviour change interventions in older adults, particularly in groups at risk of or interventions targeting loneliness and/or social isolation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: internet, email, older adult, loneliness, social isolation
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic User
Depositing User: Symplectic User
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2020 13:46
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:53

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item