Here’s a must-read piece from NPR detailing the explosive growth of social networking among 50 and older adults.
Full-disclosure, I used to work with both the report’s author, Mary Madden, a great researcher at the Pew Research Center, and the NPR reporter, Joshua Brockman, who wrote the story. But I came across this piece randomly on Twitter. It’s a small world and even smaller digital world!
Social Networking Surges For Seniors
Grandma is posting a photo on Facebook.
Grandpa is looking for former colleagues on LinkedIn.
And more and more people over 50 are joining social networks, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The study found that social networking has almost doubled among this population — growing from 22 percent to 42 percent over the past year.
According to comScore, a digital measurement company, 27.4 million people age 55 and over engaged in social networking in July, up from 16 million one year ago.
“I’ve connected with friends and acquaintances that I have lost contact with through the years — people I’ve graduated high school with and people from my home town,” says Claire LeSage, 63, who has been using Facebook for about a year and a half.
Older Americans are becoming increasingly computer literate and that means they’re also becoming more comfortable using the Internet. This has the potential to boost e-commerce, computer and gadget sales as well as subscriptions for high-speed Internet access among this population.
The promise of social networking — as a tool that can enable people to share photos, videos, links, contacts and status updates — has some unique applications for senior Americans.
“E-mail is still at the center of older adults’ social communications,” says Mary Madden, senior research specialist for the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But she says social networking is supplementing their daily communications, and once they start they are using it more frequently.
The Pew report also found that social networking users are much more likely to reconnect with people from their past. These contacts can build and enhance support networks as people begin a second career or near retirement.
Nearly 19 million people age 55 and over used Facebook in July, up from about 9 million one year ago, according to comScore.
But with more and more older Americans joining social networking, there also are some user hazards.
“Because many of them are new to social networks, they are more apt to fall prey to scams,” Gordon says. “We alert them to ones that are making the rounds, but we also encourage everyone to get familiar with privacy settings.”
Twitter use has also grown. Ten percent of Internet users over 50 say they’re using Twitter or other status update services, according to Pew.
Click here for the full story- http://n.pr/b6mNu9