Friday, 27th August 2010
New Report From Pew Internet: BIG TIME Growth for Older Adults and Social Media, A Tool to Bridge Generational Gaps
Released today by Pew Internet. The report was written by Mary Madden.
While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.
+ Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%--from 25% to 47%.
+ During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%--from 13% to 26%.
+ By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%
“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” explains Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report. “Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications.”
+ One in five (20%) online adults ages 50-64 say they use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10% one year ago.
+ Among adults ages 65 and older, 13% log on to social networking sites on a typical day, compared with just 4% who did so in 2009.
At the same time, the use of status update services like Twitter has also grown—particularly among those ages 50-64. One in ten internet users ages 50 and older now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others.
E-Mail Still Leads By a Lot and News Gathering
While email may be falling out of favor with today’s teenagers, older adults still rely on it heavily as an essential tool for their daily communications. Overall, 92% of those ages 50-64 and 89% of those ages 65 and older send or read email and more than half of each group exchanges email messages on a typical day. Online news gathering also ranks highly in the daily media habits of older adults; 76% of internet users ages 50-64 get news online, and 42% do so on a typical day. Among internet users ages 65 and older, 62% look for news online and 34% do so on a typical day.
So Why are the Numbers Growing?
First, our research shows that social networking users are much more likely to reconnect with people from their past, and these renewed connections can provide a powerful support network when people near retirement or embark on a new career.
Second, older adults are more likely to be living with a chronic disease , and those living with these diseases are more likely to reach out for support online.
And finally, social media bridges generational gaps. While the results can sometimes be messy, these social spaces pool together users from very different parts of people’s lives and provide the opportunity to share skills across generational divides.
Access the Complete Report (HTML, Searchable) ||| Access the Complete Report (13 pages; PDF)
Survey Questions (HTML) ||| Survey Questions (PDF)
Source: Pew Internet