New research from AARP and the Digital Futures Project shows that the online behavior of older Americans (50+) is rapidly mirroring, and in some cases exceeding, that of younger Gen Y users.
“The perception is that Americans over 50 only dabble on the internet, but we are finding that they are increasingly spending time online becoming involved in robust internet activities, such as online communities. In specific areas, there is often little difference in use of online technology between older users and some of the youngest users.”
-Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication
Among the findings:
- Fifty-eight percent of members 50 and older log in to their online community daily or several times a day, compared to 47 percent of members under 20;
- 76% of Americans over age 50 say the internet is an important source of information. This is up from just 51% five years ago;
- More users under 20 than those over 50 (85% vs. 76%) say the internet is an important or very important source of information;
- 36% of members 50 and older say their social activism has increased since they began participating in online communities for social causes, compared with 29% of members under 20;
- 46% of users under 50 say the internet is important or very important in maintaining their social relationships - identical to the percentage for those over 70 (though that’s not the case for mobile phones);
- Users 50+ go online more frequently to check for news than those under 20. Some 42% of consumers over 50 check the web for news daily or several times a day, compared with just 18% of users under 20.