What Digital Divide? A Majority of Seniors Now Online
CREDIT: Shutterstock / Dmitriy Shironosov
We are often told the digital divide exists not only between races but also between young and old. That generation gap may not be true anymore, as two recent studies show increasing numbers of seniors are logging on.
“While they trail behind younger generations when it comes to device ownership and online usage, they integrate technology into their lives in ways that are relevant for them,” Gina Sverdlov, an analyst for Forrester Research, says of seniors.
A recent Forrester study finds three out of every five U.S. residents age 65 and older now go online, which is about 20 million people. Nine in 10 of them use email frequently, while nearly six in 10 have purchased something online in the past three months.
Besides these common uses, there is evidence that the Web is providing companionship for our nation’s older citizens
Half of online seniors are on Facebook, according to the Forrester study. A similar number are using the Internet to send and receive photos and play games. So while older Americans may not be as active on the Web as younger users, they are certainly not shying from it. [How to Stop Facebook Apps from Sharing Your Info]
The same goes for tablet usage, according to new data from research firm comScore. Seniors are using tablets at about the same rate as children and teens are, the firm finds. Tablets also appear to be an easier entry point to technology for older Americans: ComScore says a tablet user is 28 percent more likely than a smartphone user to be at least 65 years old. [Do Tablets Make People Happy?]
Why do seniors find tablets attractive? There could be several reasons. Perhaps the most obvious may be the larger screens, which are easier to operate for those with deteriorating vision or coordination.