Communication ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 5-12-2019


Information and resources are needed to promote quality of life and access to health resources for older adults. Physical activity is an effective health prevention strategy that can help increase older adult life satisfaction and maintain functional ability. Communication technologies like the Internet and smartphone are also useful tools that provide older adults needed resources to stay educated and engaged in healthy aging. This study investigated older adult perceptions of aging, communication technology, and physical activity for older adults. Literature on theories of aging, physical activity strategies, behavior change, and technology use was gathered to understand how these concepts contribute to healthy aging. A mixed methods research design was used to understand older adult perceptions on aging, technology and physical activity. Constructivist Grounded Theory and Constant Comparative Analysis were used to qualitatively analyze interview and focus group transcripts for emergent themes on these topics. Hierarchical logistic and multiple regressions were used to quantitatively test the relationships between attitudes toward aging and technology beliefs, technology ownership/use and physical activity self-efficacy. Aging was found to be a time of a change that necessitated acceptance and adjustment to the declines associated with aging. Older adults in this study balanced their concern for the harms of the Internet and smartphones with the benefits these technologies offer. Participants were concerned about the ways communication technology may harm human interactions, but these older adults also admitted to the benefits of using these technologies to communicate with family and search for health information online. Also, physical activity was an important strategy participants used to maintain health and have control over their aging experiences. Attitudes toward aging were found to predict smartphone ownership in older adults, though this relationship was weak. The findings argue that society has something to learn from older adults’ balanced and mindful use of communication technology. This study also argues a sense of control in aging experiences may influence older adult physical activity self-efficacy. More research is needed to understand the complex role aging perceptions play in older adult physical activity and older adult use of technology for health purposes.




older adult, physical activity, communication technology, aging

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tamar Ginossar, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Judith White, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

David Weiss, Ph.D.

Fourth Committee Member

Julia Hess, Ph.D.

Fifth Committee Member

Yangsun Hong, Ph.D.