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Which age groups are doing what online?

New Pew study examines differences in online activities by age

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
December 16, 2010
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/14e4

As many marketers are aware, a person’s age often plays a big role in their receptivity to new trends and technologies.  Younger Web users are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to regularly visit social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as adopt new technologies like smartphones and other devices.  The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life project on Thursday revealed the findings of a study on age and technology use.

The study looks at six generations: the Millennials (18-33), Gen X (34-45), Younger Boomers (46-55), Older Boomers (56-64), the Silent Generation (there’s a silent generation?  That must be why I’ve never heard of them—ba-dum-ching!) (65-73), and the G.I. Generation (74 and older).

The study finds that while 79% of all American adults use the Internet, the rates decrease noticeably with age.  While 95% of Millennials are online, only 30% of the G.I. Generation is online.  What they do online is also staggered according to age.  Millennials are more likely to visit a social networking site (83%), watch a video (80%), send instant messages (66%), and read blogs (43%) than older Internet users.  But older Web users between the ages of 34 and 64 are more likely than Millennials to go online to visit a government website or get financial information.

But older users are catching up with younger users in some areas, such as the use of social networking sites.  Users over the age of 74 account for the most significant growth among social networking sites, and the Gen Xers and Younger Boomers are catching up to Millennials in listening to music online. 

“Some of the areas that have seen the fastest rate of growth in recent years include older adults’ participation in communication and entertainment activities online, especially in using social network sites such as Facebook,” the study’s author wrote.

Here’s a run-through of some interesting stats:

Older Boomers (56-64) are more likely than other age groups to buy a product online, though Millennials are right behind them.

Younger Boomers (45-55) are more likely than other age groups to make travel reservations online.

Gen Xers are more likely to go online to look for religious information than other users.

Millennials are more likely than other age groups to use online classifieds.

Older Boomers and the Silent Generation (65-73) are significantly more likely than other groups to go online to rate a product .

All age groups, except for those 74 and older, are equally likely to go online to look for health information.

Other online activities show more even distribution among the different generations, such as emailing and using a search engine.

In virtually every category, the G.I. Generation is less likely than all other groups to participate.

Image source: thetechherald.com


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