November 30, 2008

Many Older Adults Remain Offline in an Online World

A New York Times article, That Digital Divide, Bridged in a Classroom, features our August 2008 data on computer usage, which tracks with our findings on internet penetration: 38% of Americans age 65+ go online or use computers, compared with 74% of 50-64 year-olds, 86% of 30-49 year-olds, and 91% of 18-29 year-olds (and about 95% of teenagers). For a more detailed breakdown of the demographics of internet, broadband, and cell phone users, check out the Degrees of Access presentation of May 2008 data.

The trainers profiled in the Times article remind me of the people I met at the Libraries, Older Adults & Technology pre-conference of the American Library Association meeting in 2007. Carol Bean’s BeanWorks blog is a wonderful resource for understanding the group she calls “digital refugees.” Danny Wallace points out that, in his research, someone may state their age as 65, but they may feel 55 and “do” 45.

I suspect there are people who go the opposite direction, whose chronological age is 45, but their technological age is 65. That is the challenge presented to computer training centers across the U.S.