Social support is associated with technology use in old age

  • Stefan T. KaminEmail author
  • Anja Beyer
  • Frieder R. Lang



The use of technological innovations can play a significant role in healthy aging and social participation in old age; however, it is not well understood how social contexts can influence or support older adults’ use of technology. This study explored the associations between technology use, perceived technology-related support and actual technology-related social support. It was expected that older adults who perceived having more supportive resources available would be more likely to receive actual support in technology-related issues, which, in turn would explain a greater use of technology in everyday life.

Material and methods

The data are based on a sample of 107 community-dwelling older adults between 60 and 93 years of age (mean age = 73.66 years, 40% male). Measures included self-reports of actual technology-related support, perceived technology-related support, the use of different devices related to digital information and communication technology and personal characteristics (e.g. chronological age, gender, education and functional limitations). A path model was used to explore the research hypotheses.


Actual technology-related support received was positively associated with a greater number of devices used. Participants received more support with technology when they perceived a greater availability of supportive resources. The actual support received mediated the influence of perceived support and functional limitations on technology use.


The results of this study show that the provision of supportive behavior is associated with the actual use of technology. Moreover, the findings shed light on the individual and contextual factors that explain differences in actual support received.


Technology use Social networks Social relationships Perceived social support Received social support 

Soziale Unterstützung ist mit der Techniknutzung im höheren Lebensalter assoziiert



Die Nutzung technischer Innovationen kann dazu beitragen, Gesundheit und soziale Teilhabe im höheren Lebensalter zu unterstützen. Bislang ist nicht gut verstanden, wie soziale Kontexte die Techniknutzung älterer Menschen unterstützen können. In dieser Studie wurde der Zusammenhang zwischen Techniknutzung und wahrgenommener sowie erhaltener technikbezogener sozialer Unterstützung untersucht. Ältere Menschen, die eine hohe wahrgenommene Unterstützung berichten, sollten auch mehr tatsächliche Unterstützung erhalten. Die erhaltene Unterstützung sollte wiederum die Nutzung technischer Geräte vorhersagen.

Material und Methoden

Ausgewertet wurden Daten von 107 selbstständig lebenden älteren Menschen im Alter zwischen 60 und 93 Jahren (M = 73,66, 40 % männlich). Erfasst wurden die erhaltene und wahrgenommene technikbezogene soziale Unterstützung, die Nutzung von Informations- und Kommunikationstechnik sowie persönliche Merkmale (chronologisches Alter, Geschlecht, Bildung, Funktionseinschränkungen). Zur Beantwortung der Hypothesen wurde ein Pfadmodell geschätzt.


Die erhaltene technikbezogene soziale Unterstützung war positiv mit einer größeren Techniknutzung assoziiert. Personen erhielten mehr Unterstützung, wenn ein größeres wahrgenommenes Unterstützungspotenzial berichtet wurde. Die erhaltene Unterstützung vermittelte den Einfluss von wahrgenommener Unterstützung und Funktionseinschränkungen auf die Techniknutzung.


Die Studie zeigt, dass erhaltene soziale Unterstützung eine wichtige Rolle für die Techniknutzung im Alter spielt. Weiterhin weisen die Befunde auf die Relevanz individueller und kontextueller Ressourcen für das Ausmaß erhaltener Unterstützung hin.


Techniknutzung Soziale Netzwerke Soziale Beziehungen Wahrgenommene soziale Unterstützung Erhaltene soziale Unterstützung 



The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research supported this research (16SV5703); the first author received a grant from the Emerging Talents Initiative (ETI) of the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU).

Compliance with ethical guidelines

Conflict of interest

S.T. Kamin, A. Beyer and F.R. Lang declare that they have no competing interests.

All studies on humans described in the present manuscript were carried out with the approval of the responsible ethics committee and in accordance with national law and the Helsinki Declaration of 1975 (in its current, revised form). Informed consent was obtained from all patients included in studies.

Supplementary material

391_2019_1529_MOESM1_ESM.docx (48 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 Path model tested predicting computer use (1=yes) and actual support (N=107)


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Copyright information

© Springer Medizin Verlag GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychogerontologyFriedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)NurembergGermany

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