Social media — once the bastion of teens and hip young adults — is getting a tremendous influx of older users. A study by Pew Research shows that while the a large portion of online users in the 18-29 bracket embrace social media, adoption is rapidly increasing among older seniors. The 65+ age group has seen the biggest gains, tripling in the last four years.
Pew estimates that nearly three quarters of all adult Internet users spend time on social media, with nearly nine out of 10 in the 18-29 bracket and eight out of 10 in the 30-49 bracket logging in. As for the older users, six out of 10 users 50-64 are logging in regularly. Only 13 percent of users in the 65+ who went on the Internet enjoyed social media in the spring of 2009 — that figure is up to 43 percent, indicating that seniors who do spend their time on the Internet are increasingly favoring social media networks.
And older users are getting into the swing of one place — Facebook, said Aaron Smith, a senior researcher for Pew:
“We see small numbers of that group using sites like Twitter, Pinterest, etc. but the vast majority of older social networking users haven’t branched out much from Facebook (at least at the moment, we’ll see how or if that changes in the future).”
Even if older adults are sticking with Facebook, Twitter adoption is on the rise. According to the same survey, 18 percent of adults online are now Twitter users, more than double the percentage in 2010. As with social media adoption in general, adults 18-29 still have the biggest adoption rates of the microblogging site — nearly one in three users confirm having an account. As we wrote in May, Pew found that one in four teens was using Twitter. But just 5% of users over 65 are on the platform.
Pew’s research does give good insight into the adoption patterns of social media overall — showing that while the younger generation is quick to adopt social media and network with peers, older users get online and connect with friends over time.