One in three online seniors uses social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn; almost nine in ten use email.
As of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users ages 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day. Among the G.I. Generation population (adults who are currently ages 76 and older), 20% of the internet users in that cohort use social networking sites and 8% do so on a typical day. Among all adult internet users, 66% use social networking sites, and 48% use them on a typical day.
Meanwhile, email use continues to be the bedrock of online communications for seniors. As of August 2011, 86% of internet users ages 65 and older use email, with 48% doing so on a typical day. Among all adult internet users, 91% use email, with 59% doing so on a typical day.
A closer look at seniors and social networking sites
Previous research from the Pew Internet Project has shown that young adults are the most likely age group to use social networking sites, but the ranks of older users using social media grew significantly from 2009 to 2011. From April 2009 to May 2011, for instance, social networking site use among internet users ages 65 and older grew 150%, from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011. Over the last year, the number of online seniors using social media remained stable; 34% of online seniors said they use social networking sites in the February 2012 survey.
Older adults’ motivations for using social media sites differ from those of younger adults. For instance, for adults over the age of 50, staying in touch with family is the number one reason they use social networking sites. For adults under age 50, staying in touch with friends is a bigger motivation.