Older folks flocking to online social networks: US study

August 27, 2010
This picture taken in 2009 in Paris, shows the front page of the Facebook website. While online social networks remain havens for the young, they are also becoming increasingly popular with the over 50 crowd in the United States, a study released Friday showed.

While online social networks remain havens for the young, they are also becoming increasingly popular with the over 50 crowd in the United States, a study released Friday showed.

"Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users," said Mary Madden, from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

"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."

Nearly half of US Internet users ranging in age from 50 to 64 engaged in online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn during the year that ended May 30, according to the study.

That marked an 88 percent increase from the prior year.

The ranks of online seniors 65 years of age or older using social networks doubled to 26 percent, the research indicated.

One in five "online adults" ages 50 to 64 claimed to use websites daily, while 13 percent of "wired seniors" said they did so.

"Social media has the potential to bridge generational gaps," Madden said.

"There are few other spaces -- online or offline -- where tweens, teens, sandwich generation members, grandparents, friends and neighbors regularly intersect and communicate across the same network."

Pew research showed that older social network users were inclined to reconnect with people from the past, potentially creating support networks for retiring or changing careers.

Older people were more likely than the young to be living with chronic illnesses and using the Internet for blogging or online health discussions.

They also appear to be developing a taste for firing off terse text message "updates" at microblogging service Twitter, according to the study.

One-in-ten Internet users in ages 50 to 64 said they used Twitter or another status update service, and six percent said it was part of their daily routine.

A lack of broadband Internet service was seen as a main impediment to older people embracing life online.

"Even though older adults may be among the most resistant to broadband, there is evidence that once these users get a taste of high-speed access, they often come to rely on the Internet as an everyday utility in their lives," the study said.

The findings came from a US telephone survey conducted in May of this year.

Explore further: Silver surfers: New social networking Web site Genkvetch geared to seniors

Related Stories

Study: Internet use leads to more diverse networks

November 4, 2009

(AP) -- A new study confirms what your 130 Facebook friends and scores of Twitter followers may have already told you: The Internet and mobile phones are not linked to social isolation.

Recommended for you

Team develops targeted drug delivery to lung

September 2, 2015

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have developed a new method that can target delivery of very small volumes of drugs into the lung. Their approach, in which micro-liters ...

Not another new phone! But Nextbit's Robin is smarter

September 2, 2015

San Francisco-based Nextbit wants you to meet Robin, which they consider as the smarter smartphone. Their premise is that no one is making a smart smartphone; when you get so big it's hard to see the forest through the trees. ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.