Joohyun Oh (Yonsei University)

Jeong-han Kang (Yonsei University)


This study explores how digital technologies can benefit older adults’ cognitive health. The need for cognition (NFC) refers to an individual’s tendency to engage in and enjoy cognitive endeavors and is an explanatory variable for behavioral outcomes. To date, little scholarly literature has examined how NFC can be affected by our behavior; therefore, this study explored whether practicing digital skills can help to improve or maintain NFC. Utilizing age as an instrumental variable, we analyzed data from 8,824 respondents (mean age = 49.43) to the 2015 Korea Media Panel survey and discovered that enhanced digital skills led to stronger NFC. This causal effect was stronger for the older cohort (baby boomers and older, who were born before 1963). These findings suggest that older adults’ NFC may not necessarily decline with age if they practice more digital skills. This study could ultimately contribute to the transformation of the older population from a digital minority to a digital beneficiary.

Keywords: agingcognitive motivationdigital skillneed for cognitionSouth Korea

Information Development 2019, 1–11


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