Music Moves You – No Matter Your Age

By Anna Pritchard

The Applications

Music is an important piece of every culture in every time period in history. For the current generations, music is being shared and listened to, globally, in a way that has never been seen before.  The newest trend is to use apps that stream music onto devices, and the two most common, today, are Spotify and Pandora.

Spotify is an application available for download on smart phones, computers, and tablets.  This app has a storehouse of millions of songs.  Spotify has stations that hold playlists of songs, organized by genre or mood.  Some examples of this are sleep, running, kids and family, romance, travel, dinner, and focus.  The songs that can be searched for through specific searches of songs, authors, albums, or the songs found in the Spotify playlists, can be placed into playlists that the user creates.  There is a free version of this app available, but you can pay a certain amount per month to have Spotify Premium, which allows you to choose songs, without limited number of skips, and to have the music on the go, or to download the songs so that they can be listened to without internet or cellular signals.

Pandora is another music streaming device that is an application available for any technology device. The application plays a random selection of music based on an artist or genre selection. There are a number of skips available, but it is limited. This app is free, but has many adds to sustain it.

Spotify has more control, more options, and is more user friendly than Pandora, on average.  There is a larger store of music, and you can search for and play specific songs on Spotify, whereas you cannot with Pandora. Spotify’s setup is also more visually appealing and easier to navigate.

The Appeal

Young people are incredibly active on both of these, especially Spotify.  Music is a huge part of the current culture, and young people see it as a spiritual experience.  It helps younger people cope with emotions, express feelings, or pass time.  Spotify has limitless song options to search from, and allows for easy discovery of new songs.  You can find friends and follow their music, as well.

Older adults could also find this useful.  There are endless playlists and genres in each application.  There is music from all eras, providing the type of music that older adults tend to lean towards.  However, this application also offers a platform for older adults to discover the more current music, as well as connect with everyone in their family through music sharing.

There has been much research highlighting the importance of listening to music for older adults and its impact on promoting quality of life and managing psychological distress (Groake & Hogan, 2016).  Music has a positive impact on wellbeing, through pleasure, meaning, psychological functioning, and engagement in social functions (Groake & Hogan, 2016).  This implies that an older adult’s wellbeing could be altered for the better just by listening to music.  In this way, music is impacting the brain, mental health, and the social connections of the older adult.  This is a huge draw for older adults, who tend to worry about the declines of these with their age.  Older adults reported that listening to music reduced loneliness, and used music to compensate for loss of social activities, caused experiences of transcendence, and gave meaning to life through reminiscence (Groake & Hogan, 2016).  Because of this, older adults would benefit greatly from using Spotify or Pandora. The limitless music, connections, and accessibility would be useful and promote all of the positive effects that music has on the older person.


While it has been discussed and validated that older adults could benefit psychologically, health-wise, and in social contexts in the use of technology, there are some drawbacks (Chiu et. al., 2016).  In a personal review of the application, the font sizes and contrast of black and white in the Spotify application would help with the deterioration of eyesight that accompanies older adulthood.  However, the application could be confusing as there are many facets, buttons, and places to explore that could confuse an older adult who is trying to navigate this application.  The biggest issue with this app is the lack of support in navigating it, leading to, most likely, a decrease in the older adults perceived competence and confidence in their ability to navigate this technology.  Chiu et. al.’s (2016) study indicated that amidst the desire that older adults have to use and connect over applications that they consider useful, their biggest challenge was in practicing navigating the technology, and in doubting their ability to navigate it correctly.  Pandora has the opposite issue.  The app is more straight forward, but the background does not contrast as well, and the eyes of older adults affected by presbyopia – farsightedness due to old age – or cataracts – clouding of the lens in the eye – could have a harder time with the smaller font and lack of contrast.  Fixing this would be beneficial for their older clients.

Spotify would benefit the older adult community, and would be better benefitted by them, if they gave multiple hands-on tutorials to help older adults navigate and practice using the application to the best of their ability.  There could be tutorials on how to find specific songs, create playlists, discover new music in specific genres or moods, and how to connect with friends and family.  It would also be helpful to have, within the app, guides to show you how to press what buttons to take you to specific pages as you watch the device screen, in case the older adult forgets or is having a hard time with a certain aspect.

Article Summaries

The first study considered the importance of music listening on the wellbeing of young adults and older adults.  The researchers used the collective intelligence methodology, Interactive Management, in four sessions (Groake & Hogan, 2016).  The participants were two younger adults and two older adults who responded to questions and voted for five important functions of music listening which were entered into software, creating four structural models that explained the relationship between music listening and wellbeing enhancement (Groake & Hogan, 2016).  The study was a survey-based study, backed by computer software, and there were not independent or dependent variables.  The younger adults in the study emphasized music’s effect on regulating stress and social connection, while older adults emphasized the eudemonic functions of music, which included aspects like transcendence, memories, and personal growth (Groake & Hogan, 2016).

The second study looked at the learning needs of older adults living in low Internet usage areas in relation to touchscreen mobile devices.  The study was a mixed-method research evaluation of an eight-week program on touchscreen devices with thirty-nine older adults (Chiu et. al., 2016).  The program involved a pre and posttest, and the participants took part in a training course in-between the two (Chiu et. al., 2016).  The training course involved classroom-based and small group tutoring as well as qualitative interviews to reveal needs and the effects of this program and technology on psychological wellbeing (Chiu et. al., 2016).  The study is an empirical interview and focus-group qualitative and quantitative study, and the independent variable was the efficacy of technology use and knowledge, while the dependent variable was the training session to help them advance in technology use and understanding.  The interviews revealed that the participants learning needs were related to practice, usefulness of the technology, and compatibility (Chiu et. al., 2016).  As well, the study found implications for positive impacts on psychological wellbeing through use and high functioning in touchscreen technology (Chiu et. al., 2016).

In understanding the need older adults have for music, the need for understanding technology, and the efficiency of Spotify and Pandora in society, it would make sense to combine the music applications with older adults.  However, there are some implications for aspects of the apps that could use improvement or additions in order to aid older adults in using and enjoying the music and the application.


Groake, J. M., & Hogan, M. J. 2016. Enhancing wellbeing: An emerging model of the adaptive      functions of music listening. Psychology of Music, 44, 769-791. doi:         10.1177/0305735615591844

Chio, C., Hu, Y., Lin, D., Chang, F. Chang, C., & Lai, C. 2016. The attitudes, impact, and learning needs of older asults using apps on touchscreen mobile devices: Results from a            pilot study. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 189-197. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.020


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