Select Page

Seniors’ (ages 65+) use of technology has rapidly grown over the years: two-thirds report using the internet and just over half now have a home broadband connection, according to a new report [pdf] from the Pew Research Center.

Older adults have also embraced smartphones, tablets and social media use to a greater degree over the years, although factors such as age, education and income levels play a big part in how likely they are to adopt these technologies.

Internet & Home Broadband Now Mainstream

Two-thirds of seniors now use the internet (67%) and have home broadband (51%), according to the survey, which was conducted in late 2016.

While adoption may be lagging compared to the 90% of all adults who use the internet and 73% who have home broadband, it’s still a substantial uptick from 2000, when 12% of seniors accessed the internet and none had home broadband.

Use among younger seniors is even more common: 82% of 65-69 year-olds use the internet, and 66% of the same group have broadband.

Smartphones Growing In Popularity

Some 80% of seniors own cell phones, but only about half of those (42%) say they own smartphones. College educated older adults (65%) and those with household incomes of $75k+ (81%) are the most likely to own a smartphone. Not surprisingly, younger seniors are also much more likely to own a smartphone than their older counterparts, with ownership rates reaching 59% among 65-69 year-olds have one.

Smartphone ownership in these groups with above-average rates has almost doubled since 2013.

Tablet & Social Media Adoption Falls Behind

Tablet ownership has not caught on as rapidly as other technologies. Only about one-third of older Americans own a tablet (32%), with stark education and income gaps again in play. A majority (62%) of higher-income ($75k+) seniors own a tablet, as do 56% of college graduates.

Just as with tablet ownership, social media has yet to become mainstream with the older demographic. But with 34% now using social media, its use has increased from 2013, when only 27% used them.

Social media adoption is linked again to age, income and education. Even so, fewer than half (47%) of 65-69-year-olds reported having ever used social media sites.

Other Findings:

  • Only 26% of seniors say they are very confident when using electronic devices, compared to 70% of 18-29 year olds, and 60% of 30-49 year olds.
  • Almost three-quarters of seniors admit to needing help setting up or teaching them how to use a new device.
  • Among seniors, 76% of internet users and 91% of smartphone owners go online at least once a day.
  • The majority of older adults surveyed (58%) agree that technology has had a mostly positive effect on society, while only 4% believe that it has had a mostly negative impact.

About the Data: The Pew internet use data is based on telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from September 29-November 6, 2016, among a sample of 3,015 US adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (757) and cell phone (2,258, including 1,342 without a landline phone). Other data is based on a March 7-April 4, 2016 tracking survey of 1,520 US adults age 18 and older.

Feel Like You're Always Playing Catchup?

Stay ahead of the curve with our free newsletter. It’s fast. It’s factual. And it’s clear

marketing charts logo

Error: Please enter a valid email address

Error: Invalid email

Error: Please enter your first name

Error: Please enter your last name

Error: Please enter a username

Error: Please enter a password

Error: Please confirm your password

Error: Password and password confirmation do not match