Older SocNet Use Dramatically Rises

December 17, 2010

pew-socnet-changes-generation-dec-2010.JPGWhile overall social networking use by online American adults has grown from 35% in 2008 to 61% in 2010, the increase is even more dramatic among older adults, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. In particular, the rate of online social networking approximately quadrupled among Older Boomers (9% to 43%) and the GI Generation (4% to 16%).

Millennials Still Lead in Social Networking

Despite the dramatic uptick in social networking among older adults, members of the Millennial generation still enjoy a healthy lead among all age groups in social network use, with 83% of online adults from 18-33 engaging in social networking. This increased about 24% from 67% in 2008.

Gen X has the second-highest social networking rate, 62%, up 73% from two years ago. The rate among Younger Boomers increased by a factor of 2.5, rising from 20% to 50%, while it tripled among the Silent Generation, going from 11% to 34%.

8 in 10 Adults Go Online

pew-socnet-generation-dec-2010.JPGOverall, 79% of US adults 18 and older can be classified as “online.” As would be expected given their much higher social networking rate, Millennials are most likely to be online with 95% participation.

Online rates drop with each succeeding age bracket. Eighty-six percent of Gen X and 81% of Younger Boomers are online. Even three-quarters (76%) of Older Boomers are online, meaning a solid majority of working-age adults are online.

However, adults in their retirement years are online at notably lower levels. More than half (58%) of the Silent Generation are online. This figure sharply dips to less than one-third (30%) of the GI Generation, age 74 and older.

Other Findings

  • The percentage of all adult internet users who watch video online jumped 14 points in the past two years, from 52% in May 2008 to 66% in May 2010.
  • 51% of all online adults listen to music online, compared with 34% the last time this question was asked, in June 2004. While Millennials used to be by far the most avid listeners, Gen Xers and Younger Boomers are catching up.
  • As of May 2010, 53% of online adults have used a classified ads website such as Craigstlist, up from 32% in September 2007.
  • Searching for health information, an activity that was once the primary domain of older adults, is now the third-most-popular online activity for all internet users ages 18 and older.
  • Only half as many online teens work on their own blog as did in 2006, and Millennial generation adults ages 18 to 33 have also seen a modest decline in blogging. However, an increase in blogging among older adults has resulted in a small overall blogging increase from 11% of online adults in 2008 to 14% in 2010.

Youth Favor SocNets, Facebook

Results from the recent Harris Interactive “YouthPulse 2010” indicate that three-quarters of 8-to-24-year-olds use a social networking site and about two-thirds (68%) spend time on a social networking site daily. Facebook is the most popular social networking site in this demographic, with 86% of 18-to-24-year-olds using Facebook and 71% of 13-to-17-year-olds doing so. More than one-quarter of 8-to-12-year-olds (28%) use Facebook, as well.

About the Data: The Pew Research Center conducted a tracking survey of 2,252 adults 18 and older between April 29 – May 30, 2010.

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