Commentary

Seniors Catching Up With Communication Technology

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, reported by the Marketing Charts staff, seniors’ (ages 65+) use of technology has rapidly grown over the years as two-thirds report using the internet and just over half now have a home broadband connection.

Older adults have also embraced smartphones, tablets and social media use to a greater degree over the years, although factors such as age, education and income levels play a big part in how likely they are to adopt these technologies, says the report.

Technology Adoption Trends: 65+ Bracket vs. Total Population (2016)

Technology

All Adults

65+ Adults

Internet

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90%

67%

Home broadband

73

51

Smartphone

77

42

Tablet

51

32

Social media

69

34

Data Source: PewResearchCenter, May 2017

Two-thirds of seniors now use the internet and 51% have home broadband according to the survey, conducted in late 2016. While adoption may be lagging compared to the 90% of all adults who use the internet and 73% who have home broadband, it’s still a substantial increase from 2000, when 12% of seniors accessed the internet and none had home broadband, says the report. Use among younger seniors is even more common, as 82% of 65-69 year-olds use the internet, and 66% of the same group have broadband.

80% of seniors own cell phones, says the report, but only about half of those say they own smartphones. College educated older adults and those with household incomes of $75k+ are the most likely to own a smartphone. Younger seniors are also much more likely to own a smartphone than their older counterparts, with ownership rates reaching 59% among 65-69 year-olds. Smartphone ownership in these groups with above-average rates has almost doubled since 2013.

Tablet ownership has not caught on as rapidly as other technologies. Only about one-third of older Americans own a tablet (32%), with stark education and income gaps again in play. A majority (62%) of higher-income ($75k+) seniors own a tablet, as do 56% of college graduates.

Just as with tablet ownership, social media has yet to become mainstream with the older demographic, says the report. With only 34% now using social media, its use has increased from 2013, when only 27% used them. Social media adoption is linked again to age, income and education. Even so, fewer than half of 65-69-year-olds reported having ever used social media sites.

Concluding, the report lists some additional key points discovered in the study:

  • Only 26% of seniors say they are very confident when using electronic devices, compared to 70% of 18-29 year olds, and 60% of 30-49 year olds
  • Almost three-quarters of seniors admit to needing help setting up or teaching them how to use a new device
  • Among seniors, 76% of internet users and 91% of smartphone owners go online at least once a day
  • The majority of older adults surveyed (58%) agree that technology has had a mostly positive effect on society, while only 4% believe that it has had a mostly negative impact

The Pew internet use data is based on telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline and cell phone. Other data is based on a March-April 2016 tracking survey of 1,520 US adults age 18 and older.

For additional information and data from Marketing Charts, please visit here.

 

 

1 comment about "Seniors Catching Up With Communication Technology".
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  1. Dana L from Gerontologist, June 8, 2017 at 3:48 p.m.

    For what it's worth, seniors are not "adopting" technology at a higher rate so much as technology users are aging, as is every segment of the population. Pretty soon you will have almost 100% "adoption." Seniors as technology users are a huge opportunity, not in the future but now. 

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