For the First Time, More Than Half of 65+ Seniors are Online, and They’re Hooked

More than half of American adults aged 65 and older use the internet or email—the most ever, according to a Pew Research Center study, and they’re almost all regular users.

While senior adults are still less likely than any other age groups to go online, 53% say they use the internet or email at least occasionally, or access the internet through a cellphone, tablet, or other handheld mobile device. That’s up from 38% in August of 2008 and 41% in August 2011.

Once they’re online, seniors regularly use the internet. Out of all adult internet users, 82% go online on an average day. For 65+ adults, 70% use the internet on an average day.

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Close to three-quarters (70%) of 65+ seniors own a cellphone, a substantial 57% jump from two years ago. In the G.I. Generation (adults aged 75 and older), 56% own a cellphone.

About a third of the 65+ population are on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, but email “continues to be the bedrock of online communications for seniors,” says Pew, as 86% use email, and 48% do so on a typical day.

Seniors are actually more connected and tech-savvy than what Pew says, according to analyst firm Forrester Research. Their study says about 60% of seniors are online, or approximately 20 million Americans. Out of those, 91% use email, while 59% have purchased products online in the past three months.

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Because of this widespread presence, older consumers should be a force to be reckoned with when marketing products to an online audience, the firm says.

As more seniors become accustomed to internet use, senior living communities are starting to prioritize wireless access in both common areas and resident rooms. Brookdale Senior Living recently implemented a new wireless networking solution with a dual purpose of allowing mobility for electronic medical record applications and providing wireless internet access to residents.

View the Pew Research Center study here, or read more about Forrester Research’s study.

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Written by Alyssa Gerace