The older generations, long considered to be late adapters of social media and tech tools and toys are surprising some researchers and jumping onboard in huge numbers. A report released this month by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows social media use by people over 50 is the fastest growing age group. Cited in an article on Reuters.com, the study found usage among seniors 65 and older has tripled since 2009, from 13 percent to 43 percent.
According to the report, Facebook is the “gateway” social media platform for boomers and seniors. With families and friends moving away and farther apart, staying in touch via Facebook makes sense for seniors wanting to remain connected. The Pew findings show 57 percent of Internet users in the 50 to 64 age group, and 35 percent of those over 65, use Facebook. The younger age group, because many are still working, also use LinkedIn for career searches and networking.
The study’s researchers and technology experts predict that the average age of social media will continue to go “grayer” in the future when older adults discover the advantages of using these communication platforms. The article quotes senior researcher and co-author of the report, Aaron Smith’s rationale for seniors embracing social media. “These are folks who have lived perfectly successful and happy lives for six decades or more without any of this stuff. When they do adopt a social media platform, it’s because a friend or a family member has shown them how they can make your life better, or solve some problem you’ve had,” Smith says.
Further data from the Pew report shows boomers and seniors are slower to use other social media like Twitter, tumblr, or Pinterest.
- 57 percent of those age 50 to 64 and 35 percent of seniors 65+ use Facebook
- 10 percent of the 50-64 group and only 2 percent of those 65+ use Twitter
Not only does using social media help assuage isolation and depression that can occur with aging, it promotes older adults to remain mentally stimulated and engaged.