The stereotype of technology-averse elderly folks is gradually being demolished, or at least put in perspective, by new research showing a big increase in social media adoption in the geriatric set. One interesting finding from the U.K. (which is often, but not always, a good indicator for U.S. trends) shows that 22% of British grandparents belong to a social network.
Admittedly that's not quite as high as the general population, where social network use was estimated at 43% by ONS Opinions Survey in 2010, but it's still a respectable proportion -- and it could easily go up, considering that 68% of grandparents on social networks said they only joined in the last year, according to MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, which conducted the survey.
Among those who use a social network, 71% use Facebook, 34% have joined Twitter, and 9% use LinkedIn. Turning to their motivations, 51% said they joined a social network because family members encouraged them to, and 25% said they wanted to find old friends.
While there's no age limit on being a grandparent, it's probably safe to assume most of those surveyed are in the 60+ age range. With that in mind, these findings are broadly in agreement with U.S. studies -- for example a 2010 Pew survey showing that 26% of Internet users 65 and older were on social networks, up from 13% in 2009. The proportion of Internet users ages 50-64 who use social media increased from 25% to 47% over the same period.
In terms of frequency, Pew found that 20% of U.S. adult Internet users ages 50-64 said they use social networks on a typical day in 2010, up from 10% the year before, while the proportion of 65+ respondents reporting social media use in a typical day increased from 4% to 13% over the same period.