Smartphones, robots, and social media: Aging with communication technologies

Cheng Chen, Michael L. Krieger, S. Shyam Sundar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


For older adults, technology is becoming indispensable. It is increasingly difficult to perform basic functions like hailing a cab, paying a bill, keeping in touch with loved ones, or remaining engaged with one’s social, cultural, and political networks without first navigating the complex material and symbolic world of modern communication technologies. Research has demonstrated that the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has the potential to facilitate the transcendence of social and spatial barriers, and that targeted interventions have the potential to motivate older adults to stay connected. But, for these actions to be realized as material gains in psychological or physiological well-being, one has to understand the complex mental processes that motivate and shape older adults’ technology use. We synthesize research, both theoretical and applied, across a range of disciplines in an attempt to sketch a portrait of seniors’ dynamic relationship with technology. We aim to highlight research that analyzes the needs and motivations that bring older adults into relationships with technology and the barriers to adoption that stifle the development of these human-machine partnerships. We summarize studies that examine the psychological mechanisms that underlie, and the subsequent effects of, seniors’ technology use, in the hope of furnishing a broad framework for understanding older adults’ rapidly evolving relationship with ICTs. In addition, we aim to provide suggestions that might orient future research and design of technology to facilitate a more active and productive correspondence between aging populations and their technological counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of the Psychology of Aging
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780128160947
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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