Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

The Implications of Proxy Internet Use for the Internet Skills of Older Adults

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.03.00  Social sciences  Sociology   

Code Science Field
5.04  Social Sciences  Sociology 
older adults, digital inequalities, digital inclusion, proxy internet use, internet skills, learning in informal contexts, socio-technical factors, survey scale development, measurement quality
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on April 18, 2024; A3 for period 2018-2022
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender, archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  106  1,985  1,840  17.36 
Scopus  134  2,928  2,745  20.49 
Researchers (13)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  30704  PhD Jernej Berzelak  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2021  122 
2.  23497  PhD Barbara Brečko  Sociology  Researcher  2020 - 2021  115 
3.  31339  Tina Dolenc  Sociology  Technical associate  2020 - 2024 
4.  23424  PhD Vesna Dolničar  Sociology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  333 
5.  38367  PhD Darja Grošelj  Sociology  Researcher  2021 - 2024  68 
6.  22639  PhD Simona Hvalič Touzery  Sociology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  497 
7.  56766  Jerneja Laznik  Sociology  Technical associate  2022 - 2024  19 
8.  33824  Lea Lebar  Sociology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  162 
9.  38368  Miha Matjašič  Sociology  Researcher  2021  33 
10.  27574  PhD Andraž Petrovčič  Sociology  Head  2020 - 2024  290 
11.  31975  PhD Katja Prevodnik  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2020 - 2022  57 
12.  30919  PhD Marina Trkman  Administrative and organisational sciences  Researcher  2021 - 2022  50 
13.  10155  PhD Vasja Vehovar  Sociology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  840 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0582  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences  Ljubljana  1626957  40,391 
The ever-evolving nature of the internet and the ageing society are two global trends that demand a continuous development of current understandings of digital inequality – differences and disadvantages in the ways in which individuals access, use and benefit from the internet. Despite rapid increases in the number of older adults online, lower levels of internet proficiency and engagement with the internet in later life will likely continue in future. Regardless of being internet users or non-users, a growing number of older adults access the benefits of the online world through proxy internet use (PIU), a form of indirect internet engagement where they ask others to carry out an online activity on their behalf. For instance, 40% of older non-users in Slovenia engages in PIU, with similar holds for the Netherlands (39%) and the UK (42%). However, aside from a handful of general studies, little work has been carried out to develop comprehensive understandings of PIU and its implications for the internet skills of older adults, which is evident, on the one hand, from the lack of measurement instruments that would enable a valid and cross-cultural assessment of PIU and, on the other, a lack of conceptual models that connect factors and forms of PIU with its outcomes for internet skills. The latter are a top policy and social priority on the EU level (e.g. Digital Europe Programme 2021–2027), especially in the context of longevity and the recognition that internet skills are needed by all individuals to actively participate in the digital world. The overarching research aim of this project is to deepen our understanding of the notion of PIU on a theoretical and methodological level by integrating the PIU concept within existing theoretical models of digital inequalities and internet skills learning, and developing new frameworks for measuring PIU and for the validation of existing measures of internet skills among older adults. To this end, the project will use a mixed-method approach to: a) Systematically examine existing theoretical and empirical elaborations of PIU and develop a comprehensive explanatory model of PIU socio-technical factors and outcomes in terms of different types of internet skills that explains the short- and long-term implications of PIU for digital (dis)engagement; b) Refine the proposed model based on focus group insights that will result in a typology of the digital (dis)engagement of older adults that could explain the role of PIU in the dynamics of transitions between stages of internet use in later life; and c) Carry out a large-scale survey in Slovenia that will test the proposed model and validate the developed innovative measure of PIU and internet skills among older adults. This project makes a major breakthrough by filling critical conceptual and data gaps in our knowledge of PIU as one of the effective ways to bridge age-related digital inequalities. This is achieved by studying all relevant facets of PIU that might have implications for the internet skills of older adults: receiving and providing PIU, including internet users and non-users, studying the inter- and intra-generational dynamics of PIU in familial contexts and reflecting on its implications for community-based digital skills interventions. The project brings together over two decades of internationally recognized interdisciplinary research by the project team and its experience with large-scale international projects (FP5-7, H2020, Erasmus+, Interreg), related to digital inequalities, internet studies, gerontechnology, and survey methodology, as well as with R&D activities aimed at age-friendly design of e-health and e-care services. The quality and feasibility of the project is assured by the involvement of pioneers of digital inequalities research as Scientific Advisory Board members. Project leader is one of the most award-winning early-career researchers by the University of Ljubljana.
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