While waiting for the 6 train in Union Square, I overheard the following conversation taking place between an elderly couple standing on the platform.
“So if a text is a typed message, then it’s just another word for email?” – wife
“No. People send and receive texts using their cell phones.” – husband
“But if people have cell phones, then why don’t they just call?” – wife
“Everyone likes typing messages. That’s what Facebook and Twitter are for.” – husband
“I’ve heard about those twits.” – wife
“They’re called tweets. People use Twitter to tweet, not twit.” – husband
“ Twit, tweet, Facebook. I don’t get the point of any of it.” – wife
As I stepped onto the train wildly entertained, I started to wonder: Do older adults use social media?
I was surprised to find out that not only are older adults (I’m talking age 65 and up) using social media, but that they’re using it at a rapidly increasing rate. According to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 25% of online adults over age 65 now use social networking sites, and 13% of these adults log on to social networking sites on a typical day. Although social networking usage among adults ages 65+ is lagging far behind young adults, the growth among the older users has been staggering. Between April 2009 and May 2010 alone, social networking use among internet users ages 65 and older saw a 100% increase –from 13% to 26%. By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.
It looks we shouldn’t be so quick to assume (as I was) that older people don’t really use social networking sites. If their usage continues to increase at such a high rate, I would not be surprised to see the development of many more resources devoted to reaching this age group through social media. Did anyone know that AARP has over twenty-six thousand Facebook fans, twelve-thousand Twitter followers, and developed not one, but four apps last year? True story.
If you still don’t believe me that social media is catching on for older adults, meet Ivy Bean, the oldest person on Facebook…