January 22, 2006

Younger internet users are more likely than older ones to IM, play online games, and create blogs

WASHINGTON – Internet access is the norm for most Americans, up to age 70, and all age cohorts of internet users (ages 12 and older) are equally likely to use email; about 90% of all internet users send or receive email. Given the many other variations in internet use among different age groups, it is notable that this basic communications tool is almost universally used. Internet users ages 12 to 28 years old have embraced the online applications that enable communicative, creative, and social uses. Teens and Generation Y (age 18-28) are significantly more likely than older users to send and receive instant messages, play online games, create blogs, download music, and search for school information. “Many of these trends seem to be rooted the different needs and interests of each generation,” said Mary Madden, co-author of the data memo, “Generations Online.” “While it may appear that carefree teens and Gen Yers are simply having more fun online than the more practically motivated older generations, the communicative and social skills they are developing during these formative years may, in fact, prove to be practical tools that will serve them well in the future.” Internet users ages 29 to 69 years old are more likely than internet users in other age groups to engage in online activities that require some capital: travel reservations and online banking. Buying a product online is equally popular with all internet users except those at either end of the age scale: teens and internet users age 70 or older. “Seniors are not only less likely to go online, but are more cautious about what they do once they get access,” said Susannah Fox, co-author of the data memo. “Email is the one online activity that is attractive to all groups, including people over age 70.”