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Recent Pew Report Finds Internet Use Growing Among Older Adults

Woman using computer Last month the Pew Research Center published a new report on changes in internet usage by older adults. Research shows that more seniors are using the internet, including using social networking sites and email. The following is a summary of the Pew report’s findings:

  • For the first time, research shows that half of adults ages 65 and older are online
  • Once they’re online, most seniors are making internet use a regular part of their lives
  • After age 75, internet and broadband use decreases significantly
  • Seven in ten older adults own a cell phone, up from 57% two years ago
  • One in three online seniors uses social networking sites, such as, Facebook and Linkedin

The percent of older users using social media grew significantly from 2009 to 2011. From April 2009 to May 2011, social networking site use among older internet users (ages 65 and older) grew 150%, from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011.

The Pew report also showed different motivations for using social networking sites among older and younger adults. Adults, over the age of 50, stated that they use social networking sites to stay in touch with family. On the other hand, adults, under age 50, are active on Facebook and Linkedin to stay in touch with friends.

The Pew report noted that email is the main online activity of seniors. As of August 2011, 86% of internet users who are age 65 and older use email, with 48% using it on a typical day.

Regarding gadget ownership, the research showed that more seniors own a cell phone. In the study, 69% of adults age 65 and older report that they own a mobile phone, up from 57% in May 2012. Also, among people age 76 and older, 56% reported owning a cell phone of some kind. This is an increase from 47% of this age group in 2010. However, smartphone ownership among older adults is very low. Just over one in ten adults ages 65 and older stated that they own one of the feature-rich phones.

Given the projections of increased mobile device use among Americans in general, it will be interesting to learn of other changes in internet use by older Americans going forward.

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