Ageing, social capital and the Internet: findings from an exploratory study of Australian 'silver surfers'

Australas J Ageing. 2008 Jun;27(2):78-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-6612.2008.00284.x.


Objective: To document the sociodemographic characteristics and online use patterns of older Australian Internet users as part of an exploratory study of the relationship between Internet communication and access to social capital in later life.

Methods: A purposive sample of 154 Internet users aged 55 years or older and not employed full time completed an electronic survey about their social characteristics and patterns of Internet use. A subsample of 30 participated in follow-up in-depth interviews.

Results: The majority of participants comprised married, home-owning, English-speaking women and men in good health. They made extensive use of the communication and information functions of the Internet to supplement and enhance their connections with friends and family and their engagement with wider social networks.

Conclusion: Policy development should be informed by better understanding of the potential and limitations of the Internet as a tool for generating and sustaining social capital in old age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Attitude to Computers
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Information Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors