A new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project says that for the first time in history, more than half of Americans 65 and over use the Internet. According to Older Adults and Internet Use, while seniors are less likely than any other age group to use the Internet, as for April, 2012, the number hit 53 percent.
This gain surprised researchers because for years senior use remained flat. "In August of 2008," said the report, "38% of adults age 65 and older were online; by August of 2011, the share of seniors using the internet or email at least occasionally had barely inched up to 41%." But older Americans are now firmly tied to online life.
Among the other interesting findings:
* Once online, most seniors make internet use a regular part of their lives.
* One in three online seniors uses social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
* Seven in ten seniors own a cell phone, up from 57% two years ago.
* After age 75, internet and broadband use drops off significantly.
Internet use has grown, but so has broadband. As the report notes, "... once seniors start using the internet, they most often have access to high- speed connections at home. Among all adults age 65 and older, 39% say they have a broadband connection at home, up from just 8% in 2005."
Perhaps most surprising is the move of seniors toward social media. According to the summary, "From April 2009 to May 2011, for instance, social networking site use among internet users age 65 and older grew 150%, from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011."
Older adults and internet use, full report (Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, Jun. 6, 2012)
Older adults and internet use, summary of findings (Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, Jun. 6, 2012)
Older adults and internet use (news release, Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, Jun. 6, 2012)