Older Adults Double Their Use of Social Networks

Nearly half (47%) of US adults 50-64 now use a social networking (socnet) site, as do 26% of those 65 and older.

Not only are older adults using socnets, their use of these services has doubled in the last year according to data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Older Adults Increasingly Share Daily Updates

Pew’s research also found that 20% adults ages 50-64 say they use socnets on a typical day, up from 10% one year ago.

Similarly, 13% of online adults ages 65 and older log on to social networking sites daily, compared with just 4% who did so in 2009.

Furthermore, the use of Twitter and other services used to share status updates has grown among older users, particularly those ages 50-64 whose use jumped from 5% in 2009, to 11% this year.  Among online adults ages 50-64, 6% of make Twitter a part of their daily routine, up from 1% in 2009.

What does this mean to you?

If you are an older adult, be proactive in learning how to use online services and tools safely. We don’t learn safety for safety’s sake; we learn safety to accomplish what we want without placing ourselves or others in harm’s way.

Before you know it, online safety skills become so in-grained that you won’t have to even think about them, they’ll just automatically be instilled in what you do.

If you help your parents or grandparents, talk to them about safely using social networks. Many adults share far more information than teens, exposing themselves, their finances, their family, and grandchildren to undue levels of risk.

If you’re a teen, it means you’re less happy with your socnet – 14% of teens said they have left Facebook because there are just “too many adults and older people” on the site.

If you are part of an internet safety organization, this data should be a wake-up call. Very few internet safety education resources are designed to meet the needs of older adults. Yet this rapidly growing demographic is engaging in the full spectrum of online services and need clear safety advice.

(Full disclosure: I am a strong advocate for senior internet safety education, and have written Using the Internet Safely for Seniors For Dummies for Wiley, written a mini-book for seniors and presentations specifically for seniors.



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