How Many Seniors Use the Internet in the U.S.?

Last Updated: 22.11.19

 

Seniors use the internet more often than you think and, most of them, do so by using a computer – you can find more info here. Only one-third of older adults in the U.S do not use the net. A wide majority of them go online to read the latest news, to stay in touch with their families and friends and to shop. 

 

Internet use among seniors

The Pew Research Center has shown that only one-third of the seniors in the U.S have never used the Internet. 67% of adults that are aged 65 and older use the Internet today. Over the last two decades, broadband adoption has risen substantially in this age group as half of older Americans are connected to the Internet at home.

However, one-third of the senior population report that they have never used the Internet before, and half of them say that they do not have a broadband connection at home. The factors that have to be taken into account when assessing these figures are the age, income and the educational attainment of the seniors in question.

Older adults aged 65 to 68 are, according to studies, twice as likely to go online, than those who are 80 and older. They are also more likely to have a broadband connection and to own and use a smartphone.

Household income is another factor that matters. Seniors who earn more than $75,000 every year are more prone to have a broadband connection than those older adults who have an income below $30,000. 

Also, seniors who are college graduates use technology and the Internet at a higher rate than those older adults who have a lower level of education. 

It seems like only 34% of senior internet users have little confidence in being able to use devices to connect to the internet to perform various tasks online. 58% of them argue that the Internet and technology have had a positive impact on their lives and society. 

Three-quarters of older Americans go on the internet daily, and one in ten of them go online constantly. 

 

 

Seniors and smartphones

Accessing the Internet via smartphones is the most common way to do so. It comes as no surprise that seniors are the segment of the population that has the lowest rates of technology adoption when compared to the general public. However, highly educated seniors and those who come from affluent families own and use smartphones, laptops, and tablets at rates that are similar to those of adults under 65.

Even though not all seniors are Internet illiterate, there is no point denying that seniors, overall, have a distant relationship with what the specialists call the digital technology. According to studies, more seniors use smartphones now than in 2013.

In fact, In the U.S. the smartphone ownership rate has doubled in the past five years. To put this in perspective, today, half of the seniors who own a phone have a smartphone. 

 

General use of the Internet

78% of the seniors who use the Internet say that they go online to search for information on topics that they are interested in. On top of that more than half of them believe that accessing the web helps them stay up to date with political issues. Only a third of them consider that the internet is a trustworthy source of news.

Two-thirds of older adults access the internet to check the weather, 44% of them look for online recipes and 43% of them use it to play online games. Half of the older adults that have been interviewed say that playing games helps them remain sharp. 

Moreover, 53% of seniors use the net to search for medical issues, while 75% of them use it to communicate with friends and family.

Both seniors with disabilities and those without disabilities use the internet. Contrary to common belief, older people who have disabilities do not surf the web more than their counterparts. In the UK, 22% of the disabled adults claim that they have never used the net.

On a daily basis, most seniors use the web to read and send emails to friends, to use social media and to do banking.

 

Use of social media

Research has shown that there is a direct link between the ownership of smartphones and the use of social media. Today, 70% of the seniors who use Facebook claim that they access the app on a daily basis. 

In 2017, 34% of older adults used social media. By comparison, in 2009, only 8% of them did so. The amount of time that seniors stay online has also risen. Between 2015 and 2016, there was an increase of 64%. Baby boomers spend around 27 hours per week online.

As it happens with all forms of technology, younger seniors are more likely to use social media than seniors over the age of 75. Today, only 20% of adults over 75 have said that they have never used social media sites. Overall, it seems like seniors are less likely to use sites like Facebook than any other age group. 

Seniors do not seem interested in using other social media apps except for Facebook. Only 5% use Instagram, 6% own a Twitter account and only one percent of them utilize Snapchat.

 

 

Do older adults in the U.S. shop online?

Contrary to popular belief, seniors are also engaged in online shopping. The senior population makes up 28% of the eCommerce market at the current time. Therefore, promoting eCommerce content to seniors is a decision that pays off according to businesses. 

What is more, it seems like the older population will continue to grow over the next few decades. By 2035, the segment of people older than 65 will outnumber that of children under 18. Even more so, it seems like, by 2030, one in five Americans will reach retirement age. As time passes, older generations will also be more technology savvy. 

When they go online to shop, the older generation expects a different type of shopping experience. They want to access sites that are easy to use, that are trustworthy and that provide reliable information about the products that they are interested in. 

Another factor that should be considered is that seniors use the web to check for daily deals, coupons, and discounts.

In recent years, more and more brands have made their sites more senior-friendly by using larger fonts, simplifying the forms and by using specialized tools like autocorrect and autocomplete. 

 

Safety tips for seniors

It goes without saying that it is very important for adults to stay connected. However, there are a couple of safety trick that they should know about when using the web.

Firstly, they must keep their computers and other devices secure by installing reliable software. They should set up automatic updates and they should use a firewall and good passwords.

To get all of this set up correctly, it is a good idea to hire a computer technician or to ask the help of a family member. One should never give access to their information to anyone who claims to offer help as a result of a security breach.  

Oversharing should also be discouraged. There are numerous surveys and quizzes that are targeted at seniors that are, in fact, scams. They often ask invasive questions about one’s health, assets, family members and wealth. Therefore, one should avoid the surveys or quizzes that seem a bit too intrusive.

Online dating is also a way that predators use to scam older users. One should avoid transferring money to people that one has met online, regardless of the story that they offer. Plus, seniors should inform their loved ones when/if they decide to meet up with people that they know from online forums and dating sites. 

One should never click on links sent by strangers, as these links might contain viruses and other malware. Moreover, one should never trust emails that ask for credit card information or account information.

All deals that seem too good to be true are most likely scams. The most popular scams are those who claim to warn you against fraud, so be wary of anybody who reaches out to you. One should also never give or transfer money to claim a prize. 

 

 

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