1 in 3 elderly Americans use social media - Technical.ly Philly

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Apr. 16, 2013 10:00 am

1 in 3 elderly Americans use social media

By February 2012, more than one third of elderly Americans used social media — the fastest growth rate of any generation. That shows a disparity among older social usage -- considering a third of those in the region say they never use the Internet at all, including nearly 60 percent among seniors in the city.
This is a guest post from Candice Grevious, a Temple University student who currently works with the Center City AARP office and has done work for social media consulting firms Cintas and ChatterBlast in the past.

Who’s getting connected with social media? That’s the question more boomers and senior citizens are asking each other. More and more, we are realizing that our elderly neighbors are starting to catch-up to the social media train, considering now more than half of older Americans use the web and email.

In 2010, one in four American citizens older than 65 said they used social media. By February 2012, more than one third did — the fastest growth rate of any generation. That shows a disparity among older social usage — considering a third of those in the region say they never use the Internet at all, including nearly 60 percent among seniors in the city.

According Shirin Mostaghim, author of Reaching Older Demographics with Social Media, “Usage among those over the age of 65 grew 100 percent since 2009, while usage of Twitter has more than doubled among those 50 and older since 2009.”

Furthermore, “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 for The Pew Research Center’s survey report on Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends.

Social networking allows you to link with friends, family and colleagues all over the country – and even the world — by creating, sharing, and exchanging information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. It’s an increasingly popular way for family members and friends to stay connected. You can discover news on your favorite celebrities or brands, and follow up about special offers and deals offered by companies and brands you like.

AARP recently commissioned a survey of the 50+ population, to gather information on their use of social media:

  • Two out of five (40%) adults age 50 and over consider themselves extremely (17%) or very (23%) comfortable using the Internet.  One out of five (21%) Hispanic adults age 50 and over consider themselves extremely (6%) or very (15%) comfortable using the Internet.
  • The majority of those 50+ who access the Internet do so from a desktop computer (57%).  One-quarter use a laptop (26%), 4 percent use smartphones/blackberries, 4 percent use mobile phones, and one-quarter (27%) do not access the Internet.  The majority of Hispanic adults 50+ say they do not access the Internet (55%).
  • Approximately one-quarter of all those 50+ use social media websites (27%) with Facebook being by far the most popular (23%).  Approximately one-fifth of all Hispanics 50+ use social media websites (21%) with Facebook being the most popular (13%).

That growth among those in their 50s suggests they’ll take their usage into their 60s. This growth is the natural progression of social media playing a bigger role in American culture.

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