Boomers and Seniors "Exposed" Online

According to a new McAfee study, the 50+ demographic is spending more than five hours a day instilling confidence in their attitude toward technology. 88% of participants say they consider themselves equally or more tech-savvy compared to others their age. Baby Boomer adults are socially engaging online, exposing themselves to social media reproach and dangerous security risks, including sharing personal information with strangers, says the report.

Daily Time Boomers and Seniors Spend Online (hrs:minutes)


Time on Line Daily

Boomers 50-61


Seniors 62-75


Source: McAfee, October 2013

Many Baby Boomers have voluntarily shared personal information with people they have never met in person. 57% have shared information or posted online personal information. This includes 52% who have shared their email address, 27% who have shared their cell phone number and 26% who have shared their home address.

According to Michelle Dennedy, vice president and chief privacy officer at McAfee, “The use of social networks among people 50+ is trending (up)… counterintuitive that sharing personal information with strangers would not concern them… highlights… need to better understand the difference between the real and perceived dangers online… “

Though social networks have a reputation among the younger generation as a hub for drama among friends, the survey found this to be the case even in this age group. 80% use social media networks, 36% of which log in daily, opening the doors to the possibilities of social media drama. 16% admitted to experiencing negative situations while logged into their social media accounts, leading to 19% of claims that the incident was severe enough to end a friendship. Other results from those who had negative experiences include inappropriate posts from friends (23%) and having a fight with a friend, spouse, or partner (9%).

Despite their technological confidence, these adults revealed some concerning and surprising realities regarding online security (excluding instances where this information was necessary for online purchases):

  • 57% claimed they have shared and/or posted personal information online
  • 52% of them have shared Email addresses
  • 27% their cell phone numbers
  • 26% their home addresses
  • 80% of smartphone users and 43% of tablet users post mobile photos online
  • 24% admit to using their devices to send personal or intimate messages in the form of text, email, or photo messages
  • 33% of smartphone users and 38% of tablet users admit to having no password protection on their devices to safeguard these risqué conversations from reaching the public
  • 93% say their laptops and desktops have updated security software
  • 56% of smartphone users and 59% of tablet users say their devices are protected from viruses and malware

The sample of 1,258 online interviews included 15% Hispanic and 17% African American respondents, achieved geographic distribution according to the US census, and is distributed evenly by age and gender The total sample of 1,258 yields a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

For more information about this study, please visit here.



1 comment about "Boomers and Seniors "Exposed" Online".
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  1. Gian Fulgoni from 4490 Ventures, November 15, 2013 at 4:57 p.m.

    There is no way that these demo segments are truly spending this much time online. The data in the study were collected via an online survey and as such are skewed because the small percentage of the online population that joins online survey panels has been shown to be 2X to 3X heavier users of the Internet than the average person in their particular demo segment.

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