Older generations use the internet as a tool for research, shopping and banking
Compared with teens and Generation Y, older generations use the internet less for socializing and entertainment and more as a tool for information searches, emailing, and buying products. In particular, older internet users are significantly more likely than younger generations to look online for health information. Health questions drive internet users age 73 and older to the internet just as frequently as they drive Generation Y users, outpacing teens by a significant margin. Researching health information is the third most popular online activity with the most senior age group, after email and online search.
Internet users ages 33-72 are also significantly more likely than younger users to look online for religious information and they are more likely to visit government websites in search of information.
Generation X (internet users ages 33-44) continues to lead in online shopping. Fully 80% of Generation X internet users buy products online, compared with 71% of internet users ages 18-32. Interest in online shopping is significantly lower among the youngest and oldest groups; 38% of online teens buy products online, as do 56% of internet users ages 64-72 and 47% of internet users age 73 and older.
Generation X internet users have also maintained their edge in online banking, as they are significantly more likely than any other generation to do their banking online (67%). As Generation Y users get older, however, they have grown much more likely to bank online as well: the percentage of online Generation Y to do their banking online is up from 38% in 2005 to 57% in 2008. At the same time, those generations older than Generation X have remained relatively equally likely as they were three years ago to use the internet to do their banking.