Tech Ownership, Engagement Are High Among Adults Ages 50 and Older

February 1, 2023

While they may not quite rival their younger counterparts, adults ages 50 and older in the US display high rates of consumer technology ownership, according to a report [pdf] from the AARP. Some 86% own a smartphone, compared to 91% of 18-49-year-olds, while 7 in 10 own a smart TV, versus 76% of the younger bracket.

Tablet ownership is generally on par among the 50+ (59%) and 18-49 (60%) brackets, though there’s a wider gap among more emerging technologies such as wearables (28% and 41%, respectively), home assistants (31% and 38%), and smart home tech (24% and 27%).

The pandemic brought a surge in ownership of technology among 50+ consumers, which has since plateaued. Of the 6 technologies listed above, only 1 grew significantly in adoption in 2022 over 2021, with that being smart TVs (70% vs. 67%). Although smartphone and smart home tech ownership inched up, tablet ownership remained flat, and ownership of home assistants and wearables dipped.

Nonetheless, the survey data indicates that 50+ consumers are highly engaged with their devices, with the vast majority using them on a daily basis. Additionally, smartphone owners are increasingly using them for a range of activities, from social media to purchases and financial transactions.

A reliance on technology to remain connected is also drawing older consumers to platforms and devices. Some 78% strongly or somewhat agree that they rely on technology to stay connected and in touch with friends and family, a figure that remains relatively constant across 50+ age bands. Two-thirds use text daily to stay connected, while more than 4 in 10 use email (45%) and social media (43%) with that frequency.

The report notes the 50+ consumer market opportunity. With consumer technology sales expected to dip this year, it may be wise for the industry to pay attention to a demographic that still controls the majority of household wealth in the US. According to the study, roughly 3 in 10 adults ages 50+ bought a smartphone (31%) between September 2021 and September 2022, and about the same number (29%) purchased smartphone accessories. In fact, more than 7 in 10 (71%) made a tech purchase during that timeframe. Their average spend of $912 was more than double their pre-pandemic average.

By 2030, the 50+ consumer is expected to spend $120.2 billion on tech.

For more, read the study here [pdf].

About the Data: The 2022 results are based on an online survey fielded from September 23-October 6, 2022 among 2,095 US adults ages 50 and older and 884 adults ages 18-49.


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