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The Elderly and the World Wide Web

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Older people are joining the Internet bandwagon in a variety of ways. What’s more, they use the WWW to inform, enrich, and amuse themselves. About 66 percent of Americans above 65 and some 87 percent in the 57 to 64 age group log on to the Internet on a regular basis. Baby boomers spend about 27 hours online in a typical week.

These figures are a vast improvement to the number of senior Internet users in 2000 when around 14 percent of American older adults used to go online.

As before, seniors use email and other online communication tools including social media to talk to family and friends. However, seniors are also harnessing the power of the Internet to shop, play games, read the news, and look for medical information. Moreover, the elderly usually go online for banking and other financial services as well.

For people above the age of 60, the most popular online activity continues to be reading or sending emails. Using a search engine to look for information comes next, followed by checking out the weather and news, research shows.

Data from other developed countries confirm such trends. In Britain, for instance, the percentage of seniors in the 65 and above age group who shop online has shot up from 16 percent in 2008 to 48 percent in 2018, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics.

The use of hand-held devices among older Americans is also sharply on the rise. Ninety-three percent of seniors in the 70-74 group own some type of mobile phone.

Are there any downsides to internet usage among the elderly? Online harassment is one such area of concern, with more than 20 percent of internet users aged 50 and above saying that they have been harassed online.

Curious about more such insights into Internet usage and trends among seniors? Check out the infographic below:

Louise PyperThe Elderly and the World Wide Web

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