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The digital world has long been considered the domain of younger generations – and to some extent survey results from Adobe support that perception. Yet most connected Americans ages 50 and older believe they’ve got at least a moderate handle on everything digital.

The online survey asked people of different ages to rate themselves as “digitally savvy,” “moderate,” or “not digitally savvy.”

Some 62% of respondents ages 50 and older (66% of those ages 50-64, and 58% of those ages 65+) reported being either “moderate” or “digitally savvy.” In other words, only about 4 in 10 online adults ages 50 and older said they’re simply “not digitally savvy.”

Worth noting, though, is that these age groups were about twice as likely to consider themselves “moderate” as “digitally savvy.” This suggests that while most feel comfortable with the digital world, few feel as though they’re getting everything out of it that it can offer.

And although most Boomers have some degree of confidence in their digital-savvy, it’s true that they’re considerably behind their younger counterparts.

For example, the majority of respondents ages 25-34 and 35-49 feel that they are indeed “digitally savvy”, and only 1 in 7 (14%) think they’re not. Curiously, 18-24-year-olds are slightly more inclined than their older Millennials and Gen X counterparts to believe they’re not digitally savvy, with 1 in 5 reporting that. This may be a case of “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know…”

Older adults’ use of the internet has rapidly grown in recent years: a Pew Research Center report released last year found that two-thirds of the 65+ population now uses the internet, up from just 12% at the turn of the century. Still, given that the survey found 9 in 10 adults using the internet overall, it appears that most of the offline population is in the older age brackets. (Adobe’s survey was fielded online, so it eliminates the offline population.)

Digital Knowledge and Its Impact on Healthcare

As the huge number of Baby Boomers in the US increasingly enter retirement age, there are large implications for the healthcare industry.

One aspect in which digital knowledge counts is in access to healthcare information. The majority (57%) of traffic to consumer health information sites comes from mobile devices, including almost half (48%) from smartphones, per Adobe’s report. And visits from smartphones are growing at the expense of tablet and desktop visits across all four healthcare site segments measured: Consumer Information; Healthcare Provider; Practicioner; and Payers, Pharma & Device.

Not surprisingly, the “Digitally Savvy” are using their smartphones for more health-related tasks than the “Not Digitally Savvy.” That includes their use of smartphones for tasks including tracking fitness and weight-loss goals, as well as for ordering and refilling prescriptions, and paying health insurance premiums.

In fact, most of those who are “Not Digitally Savvy” haven’t used a health insurance website or app in the past 6 months, nor do they show any interest in using a smartphone for health-related activities.

That’s not to say that comfort with smartphones is a prerequisite for adequate healthcare. But given that smartphones are the only device for which healthcare traffic is going, it seems that providers will adapt and tailor their experiences accordingly. Educating those who are not digitally savvy – who anticipate spending 50% more on healthcare this year ($4,000) than those who are “digitally savvy” ($2,700) – seems like it will be a key priority for the industry.

About the Data: The results are based on an online survey conducted during Q3 2017 among 1,000 consumers in the US ages 18 and older.

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