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Social Networking Use Doubles for Boomers-Email Still Rules

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While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%.
  • During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%–from 13% to 26%.
  • By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.

“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” explains Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report. “Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications.”

  • One in five (20%) online adults ages 50-64 say they use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10% one year ago.
  • Among adults ages 65 and older, 13% log on to social networking sites on a typical day, compared with just 4% who did so in 2009.

At the same time, the use of status update services like Twitter has also grown—particularly among those ages 50-64. One in ten internet users ages 50 and older now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others.

A Typical Day: Where Social Media Use Fits In (% of Age Group)
Activity 18-29 30-49 50-64 65+
Send or read email 62% 67% 60% 55%
Get news 44 45 42 34
Do any banking online 27 30 22 19
Social networking site 60 39 20 13
Use online classifieds 14 13 6 5
Twitter or status update service 18 9 6 3
Source: Pew Research Center’s 2010 Tracking Survey, August 2010

Click here to read the full PDF report.

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