N.X.TOU1, J.A. LOW2, C.C. YU1
Geriatric Education and Research Institute1, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital2
Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the issues faced by older adults because of the digital divide. Studies have shown that older adults are disadvantaged in gaining access to information and communication as they are less technologically proficient than younger adults. The effects of such digital gap on psychological well-being during a pandemic remain unclear in Singapore. This study examined differences in digital media usage between younger and older adults during the circuit breaker (CB) period, and its associations with mental health, social support, and adaptive behaviours.
In October and November 2020, a door-to-door survey was administered to 602 Singaporean younger (n = 302) and older (n = 300) adults aged 21-89 years. All participants self-reported their depression, anxiety, stress (DAS), concerns, psycho-social adaptability, ability to perform essential activities, digital media usage, and social support during the CB period.
Older adults were found to be less efficacious in adopting digital media platforms and were less able to utilise digital resources in performing essential services during CB period. Despite this digital gap, older adults reported significantly higher psycho-social adaptability and lower DAS levels as compared to younger adults. Both groups perceived having good social support and older adults had lesser emotional and financial concerns.
Although the digital gap exists and this limited the ability of older adults to perform tasks during CB, mental health was not adversely affected, and older adults demonstrated stronger resilience with higher psycho-social adaptability and lower DAS levels.