Internalized ageism a double-edged sword; insights from a Belgian study with older adults

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)Research


Older adults have received additional attention to ensure their digital inclusion, however they are still more vulnerable to digital exclusion. Discrimination based on age has been theorized to have an impact on the digital inclusion of older adults. Internalized ageism manifests in ageist stereotypes and behaviours by older adults themselves that reflect the ageist views of society as they apply these on their own perception of ageing. To further understand this phenomenon our article answers the question: how does internalized ageism impact the use of digital technology of older adults in Belgium? An empirical analysis of 76 interviews with older adults found that internalized ageism could be both a motivator and deterrent for digital technology use. For our older ‘pro-users’ were motivated by an urgency to avoid a more negatively perceived non-digital ageing experience and therefore used their acquired skills and knowledge to maintain their digital inclusion. While others utilized ageist terminology to explain their own lack of digital technology engagement. Within the data it became evident that participants with some form of use have a different and preferred ageing experience when they compare themselves to non-users. Furthermore, the internalized ageism was not only aimed at older adults, our data also shows that the younger generations are seen as more capable in digital technology use, and our participants ascribe them an expertise that is not proven in scientific research. This is a form of ageism as well. Our findings show that ageism is insidious and can have negative effects on the self-perception of the older adult, however it also highlights that older adults obtain temporary or precarious privileges from internalized ageism in the form of a digital ageing experience. The precarity of this experience lies in the question ‘will I be able to keep up?’
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2023 Annual Meeting of the Socio-gerontechnology Network
Subtitle of host publicationTheorising Ageing in a Digital World
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event2023 Annual Meeting of the Socio-gerontechnology Network
: Theorising Ageing in a Digital World
- Open University of The Netherlands/ Utrecht Campus, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 28 Sep 202329 Sep 2023
Conference number: 5


Conference2023 Annual Meeting of the Socio-gerontechnology Network
Abbreviated title2023 SGN
Internet address


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