The Silver Surfers: An Outlook on Elderly Internet Usage

Vikas S By Vikas S, 21st Jun 2016 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Sales & Marketing

All in all, the future looks good for the Silver Surfers of cyberspace — they’re getting the hang of this Internet thing just like everyone else.

The Silver Surfers

Nearly 30 years following its popularization, the Internet is still, for the most part, considered a futuristic and yet undiscovered frontier. With Baby Boomers between the ages of 51 and 69 representing the largest living demographic in the U.S. in 2015, it’s high time the elderly community stopped looking at the Internet as the domain of “the young” and started getting in on the digital revolution, right?

Wrong: They already are.

Turns out, it’s not really an isolated incident either. As Web 2.0 self-syndication technologies continue to become more intuitive and user friendly, more of America’s seniors have flocked to social media in general and Facebook in particular.

Today’s Facebook Users

Remarkably, the scales have tipped on the Facebook-scape. Today, more teens and young adults seek sleeker, faster and more feature-rich social media networks, thus abandoning the Facebook ship in pursuit of Instagram. Meanwhile, older demographics are widely embracing Facebook as a means of bridging the geographic gap between them and their distant loved ones, or reconnecting with former friends and acquaintances.

There’s an avalanche effect at play too — researchers Michael Braun and Lyn Van Swol of the University of Wisconsin found that one of the biggest reasons behind the accelerating popularization of the Internet in general and social media in particular among the elderly is that others their age are using it too.

“And it’s not just desktop technologies either,” notes George Otte, Miami entrepreneur and founder of a conglomerate of companies including an IT support and computer repair company. “the outlook is promising for older Americans increasing their adaptation of mobile technologies as well.”

In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, digital connectivity in the 65+ age demographic increasing at a steady 60% according to the study, with 44% of age 50+ smartphone users accessing the internet or checking their mail through their phones on a daily basis. It doesn’t end there:
· Nearly 90% of seniors over the age of 65 have and use email regularly
· 27% of these over -65ers watch videos online
· 60% of people between the ages of 56 and 64 even bank online
It would seem that mom, dad, and grandpa are hardly as clueless about technology as younger generations may have perceived them to be. In fact, it seems they may be ahead of the game, as they have found technology can be quite beneficial to their health.

Go On, It’s Good for Your Health!

The effects on health and welfare in this age group has been astounding according to a study published in the journal Intelligence, which found that today’s elderly are, cognitively speaking, four-to-eight years younger than the same-aged population from 10 years ago — findings that persist even after accounting for possible confounding factors like education and social class.

The trend points toward older generations using the Internet in a more encyclopedic fashion than their younger counterparts, utilizing the instantaneous information retrieval powers of the Internet to self-educate and diagnose on health issues or ailments accompanying their old age.

This self-initiated trend toward digitally-empowered health awareness in the elderly has social scientists wondering just how effective a systematic application of digitally-curated clinical practices could be. Dr. Anja Leist of the University of Luxembourg even advocates the use of social media for direct patient-to-doctor conversations.

There are already several online forums, predominantly populated by younger age demographics, that function as de-facto support communities for people with specific ailments, but why ask the elderly to move someplace else when the tools they need to talk are right at their fingertips on Facebook?

Of course, there are considerable hurdles to overcome before elderly and their physicians can share statuses or chat on Messenger. That said, as security awareness continues to increase in all Internet users and the regulated sharing of personal information becomes, for better or worse more commonplace, we can assume it may soon be possible for seniors to converse with their caretakers and primary physicians directly through social media networks like Facebook.

So what problems remain to be tackled to pave the way for the singularity of silver age Internet usage? According to a study by Professors Chairwoo Lee and Joseph Coughlin, 10 factors influence older generations’ perceptions and decisions in the adaptation of technology based products:
· Value
· Usability
· Affordability
· Accessibility
· Technical Support
· Emotions
· Independence
· Experience
· Confidence

Increasing each of these ten factors, least of all independence, experience, and confidence by educating the elderly on technology and empowering them to use it themselves makes it easier for them to learn newer technologies later on.


Interesting, Internet, Internet Marketing, Internet Marketing Articles

Meet the author

author avatar Vikas S
Vikas Solanki is a leading IT & Business consultant and author. A seasoned expert in Inbound Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media, Web designing, Content Manage

Share this page

moderator Peter B. Giblett moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


Add a comment
Can't login?