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Not Your Grandma’s Grandma: More Seniors Go Online

The stereotype of the technology-hating senior may be even more bunk than everyone thought. Seniors are adapting to the internet pretty well, with more than 59% online and 71% of those going online every day.

That’s right, seniors are and have been online in a big way.

What’s more interesting is that higher-income seniors, often targeted by email campaigns, have online literacy rates that match or sometimes even exceed the rest of the population. So for your purposes, you can market to this demographic as effectively as anyone else.

How Older Americans Are Using the Internet and Mobile Devices

by Ayaz Nanji  |  April 11, 2014
Some 59% of Americans age 65 or older report they now go online, a six percentage point increase from 2012, according to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Moreover, among older adults who use the internet, 71% go online every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times per week.

Nearly half (47%) of US seniors also say they have a high-speed broadband connection at home, and 77% report having a mobile phone (up from 69% in 2012).

However, seniors continue to lag behind younger Americans significantly in tech adoption: 91% of the general adult population (18+) have cell phones, 86% use the internet, and 70% have broadband access at home.

Below, additional key findings from the report, which was based on data from a survey of 1,526 Americans age 65 or older.

Demographic Differences

  • Younger, higher-income, and more highly educated American seniors use the Internet and broadband at rates approaching—or even exceeding—that of the general population.
  • Among seniors with an annual household income of $75,000 or more, 90% go online and 82% have broadband at home. Among seniors earning less than $30,000 annually, only 39% go online and 25% have broadband at home.
  • Internet use and broadband adoption both drop dramatically for those around age 75.

Device Habits

  • Among the general public, smartphones are much more common than either tablet computers or e-book readers. However, tablets, e-book readers, and smartphones are each owned by 18% of older adults.
  • Moreover, the proportion of older adults who own either a tablet or an e-book reader is actually larger than the proportion owning a smartphone (27% compared with 18%).

Social Media

  • 27% of Americans age 65 or older (46% of online seniors) use at least one social networking site (SNS), such as Facebook.
  • 81% of older adults who use social networking sites say that they socialize with others (either in person, online, or over the telephone) on a daily or near-daily basis. Among older adults who go online but do not use social networking sites, that figure is 71%; and for those who are not online at all, it is 63%.

About the research: The report was based on data from a telephone survey of 6,224 adult Americans (1,526 age 65 or older) conducted between July 18 and September 30, 2013.

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