COVID-19 and Everyday ICT Use: The Discursive Construction of Old Age in German Media

Hanna Köttl, Verena C. Tatzer, Liat Ayalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations
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Background and Objectives: Media discourses have the power to construct and perpetuate positive and negative aging images and influence public and individuals' attitudes. This study aims to critically examine the media portrayal of older persons' everyday information and communication technology (EICT) usage during the first and second waves of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Research Design and Methods: A total of 51 articles published in 3 leading German newspapers between March 2020 and November 2020 were identified from the LexisNexis Academic database. Data were analyzed employing critical discourse and thematic analysis. Results: EICT use was associated with youthful, consumption-orientated, and active lifestyles, while nonuse was constructed as failures on the policy or individual level. The pandemic seemed to have acted as an amplifier, further exacerbating and perpetuating stereotypical, dichotomous, but also empowering aging images. Discussion and Implications: Neoliberal rational and binary distinctions of active users and nonusers opened and encouraged critical discussions on positive aging trends, the concept of the third and fourth ages, and aging-and-innovation discourses. Moreover, the crucial educative role of the media in raising awareness about power imbalances and reducing EICT-related ageism is stressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-424
Number of pages12
JournalThe Gerontologist
Issue number3
Early online date2021
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.


  • Active aging
  • Ageism
  • Discourse analysis
  • Media
  • Technology


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