Social networking ages 50 and older doubles!

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Status updating has also grown in popularity among older users; one in ten say they use Twitter or another service to share updates or see updates about others

WASHINGTON, DC – 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. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%.
  • During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%–from 13% to 26%.
  • By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.

“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 Internet & American Life Project and author of the report. “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.”

  • 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.
  • Among adults ages 65 and older, 13% log on to social networking sites on a typical day, compared with just 4% who did so in 2009.

At the same time, the use of status update services like Twitter has also grown—particularly among those ages 50-64. One in ten internet users ages 50 and older now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others.

  • Just 5% of users ages 50-64 had used Twitter or another status update service in 2009, and 11% now say they use these tools.
  • On a typical day, 6% of online adults ages 50-64make Twitter a part of their routine, up from the 1% who did so in 2009.

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

These findings come from a nationwide telephone survey of 2,252 American adults (including 744 interviewed on cell phones) conducted between April 29 and May 30, 2010. The margin of error is two percentage points for the total sample and three percentage points for results based on internet users (n=1,756).


About the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the internet through surveys that examine how Americans use the internet and how their activities affect their lives.



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