Pew reports increased Internet usage by adults 50 and over
Sept. 13, 2010
by Mark Ollig

I’m not one for taking all the credit, but the folks in my age group are making some serious noise when it comes to the latest increase in Internet usage.

Our good friends at Pew Research tell us in their latest study, Internet social networking by adults age 50 to 64 has increased an incredible 88 percent, going from 25 to 47 percent between April of 2009 and May of 2010.

Looking back five years to September 2005, this number was only 7 percent.

Seniors age 65 and better, during the same period, had an amazing 100 percent increase, growing from 13 to 26 percent.


Having access to faster Internet speeds is one reason Pew says more older adults are using the Internet.

The Pew Research report points out, “Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of this Pew report.

Madden went on to say e-mail is the foremost way older folks keep in contact with family, colleagues, and friends. Recent studies, however, show them also relying on online Internet social networking sites, too.

I have noticed myself using Facebook messaging much more this past year when communicating with family members versus using traditional e-mail.

Twenty percent of 50-to-64 year-olds surveyed report using social networks every day.

Your humble columnist is definitely included in this percentile.

Ninety-two percent of us “boomers,” 50 to 64, are using the Internet daily for e-mail, while 89 percent of the folks 65 and better connect to the Internet for their daily e-mail.

Obtaining news from the Internet ranks high as one of the typical daily Internet viewing habits by 76 percent of adults 50 to 64.

Of the adults 65 and better, 34 percent use the Internet daily for gathering news information.

Pews reports less than 50 percent of adults 50 and better visit their online banking sites daily. This statistic surprised me, since I usually check my online bank account almost every day (just to make sure it still has a positive balance).

Twitter has also seen increased participation by adult users age 50 and better.

One in 10 Internet users 50 to 64 report using Twitter to follow the messages of others and to type updated messages about themselves.

One in 20 Internet users 65 and older say they use Twitter to share updates about themselves or view updates about the Twitter users they follow.

Twitter is now being used on a daily basis by 6 percent of adults 50 to 64.

According to Pew Research, a typical day on the Internet for adults 50 to 64 says includes using Twitter or a similar ‘status messaging’ service, check out the online classifieds, visiting social networking sites, doing some online banking, read some news and send or read e-mail.

A normal Internet day finds yours truly using Twitter, Facebook, AOL, Gmail, Justin TV, YouTube, my bank’s website, and also updating my online blog, which you can find at http://bitscolumn.blogspot.com.

I also check out a variety of local, national, international and technical news websites, as well.

Pew said their research confirms older adults are also using online social networks to reconnect with people from their past.

Increased use of Internet social networking sites has become the new medium for various support groups used by older adults when they are near retirement or embarking upon new careers.

Another reason older adults will use an online social network is when they are living with a specific medical condition. These adults will find online support from many specialized social networks which focus on their particular medical condition. Participation in online discussions with others experiencing similar health conditions is becoming more popular, not just for older adults, but for any age group.

Bridging generational gaps is another reason for being online.

Internet social networking sites allow for the sharing of stories, skills and life experiences between the younger and older generations.

The Internet also provides the means to easily communicate with far away family and friends.

In addition to simple e-mail or text messaging, there are software applications available such as “Skype,” which is commonly used for real-time video and voice communication.

From political and societal participation, continuing education, to involvement in local and national concerns; older adults today are making their voices heard over the numerous and varied social networking sites and blogs available on the Internet.

The Internet is now a convenient and easily accessible medium for all age groups – young and old – to communicate over.

Like using the telephone, we are now in constant communication with each other; sharing what is happening in our lives on a daily basis – using the Internet.

The number of folks from my generation and the generation before me utilizing the benefits and resources of this ever-growing Internet are unquestionably increasing.

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