The efficiency of using everyday technological devices by older adults: The role of cognitive functions

K Slegers, MPJ van Boxtel, J Jolles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Older adults experience more problems than younger people when using everyday technological devices such as personal computers, automatic teller machines and microwave ovens. Such problems may have serious consequences for the autonomy of older adults since the ability to use technology is becoming essential in everyday life. One potential cause of these difficulties is age-related decline of cognitive functions. To test the role of cognitive abilities in performing technological tasks, we designed the Technological Transfer Test (TTT). This new and ecologically valid test comprises eight technological tasks that are common in modern life (operating a CD player, a telephone, an ATM, a train-ticket vending machine, a microwave-oven, an alarm clock, a smart card charging device and a telephone voice menu). The TTT and a comprehensive battery of cognitive tests were administered to 236 healthy adults aged 64–75 years on two separate occasions. The results demonstrated that the performance time for five of the eight tasks was predicted by cognitive abilities. The exact cognitive functions affecting technological performance varied by the technological task. Among several measures and components of cognition, the speed of information processing and cognitive flexibility had the greatest predictive power. The results imply that age-related cognitive decline has a profound effect on the interaction between older adults and technological appliances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-325
Number of pages17
JournalAgeing & Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


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