Gender Divides in Engagement with COVID-19 Information on the Internet among U.S. Older Adults

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gender, loneliness, caregivers, information-seeking, social media



Gender and age disparities in older adults’ exposure to pandemic stressors may create different needs for engaging with COVID-19 information, yet mitigation strategies to curb spreading COVID-19 inhibit their access to preferred in-person information networks. To inform the design of Internet-based interventions for older adults, the current study of U.S. older adults examines gender and age divides in searching for and sharing COVID-19 information on the Internet. Methods

A secondary analysis of survey data from the Pew Research Center fielded March 19-24, 2020. Bivariate probit regressions jointly estimated how searching for and sharing information on the Internet about COVID-19 were associated with the age and gender of U.S. older adults (50 or older), adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics. Results

Consistent with previous research, younger older adults (50-64) were more likely than their older counterparts (65 or older) to search for and share information about COVID-19 and men, regardless of age, were less likely than women to share information. While men are usually more likely than women to search for information, women who are younger older adults were most likely to search for COVID-19 information. Discussion

Internet-based interventions for older adults should consider how gender shapes their exposure to pandemic stressors. Men, who were already at risk of social isolation before the pandemic, may be candidates for interventions encouraging social uses of the Internet. Women between 50 and 64 were most likely among adults to provide care for another adult before the pandemic, which may be shaping their online information needs.