Monday, July 21, 2008

Seniors’ Online Behavior Mirroring Teens

By Robbin Goodman, Makovsky + Company

The BBC recently reported the death of the world’s oldest blogger – Australian Olive Riley, age 108. You can find photos and remembrances of Olive at as well as her blog entries. Most of her fan base was in the U.S. and reportedly she received a great deal of attention because of U.S. blogger Kim Komando.

For those who think blogging and social networks are only for the 20- and 30-somethings, a recent study from Jeff Cole’s Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, states that “Internet users 50+ are rapidly closing the digital divide with booming online activity,” and that the community involvement of this age group even exceeds that of teenagers, at least in some categories. The study found:

  • Users 50+ are online news junkies. 42% of those 50+ check the Internet for news daily or several times a day, compared to 18% of users under 20.

  • They love their online communities. Those 50+ report extensive involvement in their communities: 58% log in to their online community daily or several times a day, compared to 47% of those under 20 years of age.

  • A significant number have increased their social activism. Participation in online communities has increased social activism for 30% of members 50 and older, compared to 29% who are under the age of 20. (Presidential candidates take note!)

  • They’re maintaining social relationships online. Among users under 50 years of age, 46% said the internet is important or very important in maintaining their social relationships – identical to those over 70. Over 70!
However, IMs and video downloads are still the territory of young users – only 9 percent of users 50+ said IM was important or very important, compared to 48% of those under 20.

However, while seniors represent a lucrative market, two-thirds of consumers aged 50-69 researched their online purchase in stores first, according to the Center for the Digital Future.

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