Smartphone Usage Diversity among Older People

  • Andrea RosalesEmail author
  • Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol
Part of the Human–Computer Interaction Series book series (HCIS)


Older people are a minority in digital media, in terms of both access and use. While the divide in access has decreased, this is not the case with the divide in use. In this chapter, we go deeper into the divide in use, by studying the diversity of smartphone usage among older people. We have used three complementary perspectives: tracked use, reported use, and reflections on use. According to our study, between 2014 and 2016 the divide in smartphone use increased between younger individuals and older people. Moreover, older smartphone users in Spain are a diverse user group, which includes basic, proficient and advanced users. Proficient users are the most common group. Basic users are often new users with little experience of digital technologies who usually achieve their communication goals by other means. We used a triangulation of qualitative and quantitative methods. This approach allowed us to show the limited and at the same time diverse use of smartphones by older people. These results question the stereotypes that only associate older people with a limited use of digital technologies. They also help to raise awareness of the importance of taking the particular characteristics of older proficient smartphone users into account in the design of intelligent systems, in order to fight structural ageism.



We are indebted to all the participants in our study. This research project has been partially funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (FJCI-2015-24120) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through the Ageing + Communication + Technologies project (895-2013-1018).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IN3—Universitat Oberta de CatalunyaBarcelonaSpain

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