Problematizing the Digital Literacy Paradox in the Context of Older Adults’ ICT Use: Aging, Media Discourse, and Self-Determination


  • Kathleen Schreurs University of Western Ontario
  • Anabel Quan-Haase University of Western Ontario
  • Kim Martin University of Guelph



Seniors, older adults, digital literacy, Internet Communication Technology,


Current media discourse suggests that seniors lag behind in terms of engagement with digital technology. Through a survey and interviews with seniors we investigate how this population views their own digital skills, barriers to digital literacy, and who supports them in gaining literacy. Seniors recognize their age as a factor in the adoption of technology and they note differences between how they and younger generations use technology. Lack of skills and sometimes-limited support make it difficult for seniors to gain experience and comfort with technology. However, support systems such as family and peers can help mediate senior’s experiences with technology. The Seniors Digital Literacy Paradox is proposed as a model for understanding the needs of seniors in gaining digital literacy.

Author Biographies

Kathleen Schreurs, University of Western Ontario

PhD Candidate in Library and Information Studies, Faculty of Information and Media Studies


Anabel Quan-Haase, University of Western Ontario

Associate Professor, Faculty of Information and Media Studies/Department of Sociology

Kim Martin, University of Guelph

Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Arts