Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older has nearly doubled -- from 22% to 42% over the past year.
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. Although email continues to be the
primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families
and colleagues, many users now rely on social network platforms to help
manage their daily communications -- sharing links, photos, videos,
news and status updates with a growing network of contacts.
Half (47%) of internet users ages 50-64 and one-in-four (26%) users ages 65 and older now use social networking sites.
Half of online adults ages 50-64 and one-in-four wired seniors now
count themselves among the Facebooking and LinkedIn masses. That's up
from just 25% of online adults ages 50-64 and 13% of those ages 65 and
older who reported social networking use one year ago in a survey
conducted in April 2009.
Young adult internet users ages 18-29 continue to be the heaviest
users of social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, with 86%
saying they use the sites. However, over the past year, their growth
paled in comparison with the gains made by older users. Between April
2009 and May 2010, internet users ages 50-64 who said they use a social
networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn grew 88% and those
ages 65 and older grew 100% in their adoption of the sites, compared
with a growth rate of 13% for those ages 18-29.
One-in-ten (11%) online adults ages 50-64 and one-in-twenty
(5%) online adults ages 65 and older now say they use Twitter or
another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about
The use of Twitter and other services to share status updates has
also grown among older users -- most notably among those ages 50-64.
While just 5% of users ages 50-64 had used Twitter or another
status-update service in 2009, 11% now say they use these tools. On a
typical day, 6% of online adults ages 50-64 make Twitter a part of
their routine, up from the 1% who did so in 2009.
By comparison, social networking sites have gained a much larger
foothold in the lives of older Americans over time. 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. Likewise, 13% of online adults
ages 65 and older log on to social networking sites, compared with just
4% who did so in 2009.
Email and online news are still more appealing to older users, but social media sites attract many repeat visitors.
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.
Social media properties -- including networking and status-update
sites -- are newer additions to the daily digital diet of older adults.
Yet, the "stickiness" of the sites is notable. To look at the data
another way, among the pool of adults ages 50 and older who use social
networking sites, 44% used them on the day prior to their being
contacted for our survey.
The pool of Twitter and status update users ages 50 and older is too
small to segment, but the behavior of this limited early adopter group
does suggest a similar tendency towards regular use of the sites.
By comparison, less than half of online banking users ages 50 and
older visited the sites on a typical day and less than one-in-five
older users of online classified sites reported use of the sites