Once you get past the 60 inch LED TVs and infinite products for mobile phones at the Consumer Electronics Show, one of the most exciting discussions at the show is about how boomers and seniors are influencing technology. A report sponsored by AARP and Microsoft provides insight into how the group is using technology on a daily basis. Boomers and Technology: An Extended Conversation is a unique study of how the boomer generation thinks about technology and offers a fresh perspective on how boomers’ use of technology will evolve in the years ahead.
Below are a few insights from the report:
- Boomers are the fastest-growing age segment on such social-networking sites as Facebook, and many log on at least once a day.
- While not early adopters, they have been drawn in by younger family members and also by business connections.
- An early 2009 survey showed that about half of boomers use online banking,1 and that figure is rising rapidly. Almost all of the participants used online banking or investing in one form or another.
- When it comes to video, boomers are discovering online sources at a rapid rate; a late 2008 study found that more than a third of people in their fifties had watched an online video in the past week.
- During 2009, that number has probably increased dramatically: the dinner participants were almost uniformly familiar with streaming video
- Use of social networks by those over 50 has tripled over the past 18 months, and once boomers join a social networking site a third of them visit at least once a day.
- The more than half-million registered users on AARP.org have already organized more than 2,300 separate discussion groups.
The report also found that online social networks will serve at least three main purposes for boomers:
- First, as a connection to family, as the social network becomes a powerful way to remain a part of their children’s lives without intruding.
- Second, as a connection to friends —as a way to both meet new friends and, just as important, to re-establish connection with past friends in a way that no generation has ever been able to do before.
- Third, it’s very clear that as boomers redefine their roles in the work force, business-oriented social networking will become an increasingly important way to keep track of colleagues and peers, and to create new kinds of employment opportunities beyond the traditional 9-to-5 corporate roles.