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Boomers Dive Into Social Media

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(Posted on Aug 21, 2013 at 06:30PM by William Cosgrove)
They may be the last age group to join in, but you can no longer say that baby boomers and seniors aren’t embracing technology.
In the past four years, the percentage of people age 65 and older who say they use social-networking sites tripled to 43%, from 13% in 2009, according to a recent survey by thePew Research Center.

And 60% of 50- to 64-year-olds said they are on a social-networking site, according to the survey, which asked 1,895 adult Internet users about their online practices.

Those figures still pale in comparison to younger Americans: 89% of people aged 18 to 29 said they use social-networking sites, as did 78% of 30- to 49-year-olds.


And it’s not as though the survey’s findings reveal an obsession for social-media among older folks. Yes, a good portion of mature Americans are online and they’re using Facebook—but that’s about it in terms of social media.

“To the extent that people in that 65-and-up group are using social-networking sites, almost all of them use Facebook. Very, very few of them use something in addition to that,” said Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at Pew Research Center and a co-author of the report.

They’re joining in greater numbers “for the same reasons everyone else is getting on it,” Smith said. “Connections to the people they care about, whether those are family members or other loved ones, as well as to people who share similar interests, similar hobbies.”

The embrace of social media often is driven by one’s friends and family joining.

“Generally, when we ask people why they don’t go online or why they don’t have a cellphone, it’s a perceived lack of relevance. That idea that, ‘this is a waste of time, there’s nothing here of value to me,’” Smith said (he added that, for some others, there might be financial or physical limitations).

“That’s particularly true for people who have lived perfectly happy, successful and fulfilling lives for decades without a lot of this stuff,” he said.

The question posed to survey respondents was: “Do you ever use the Internet to use a social-networking site like Facebook, LinkedIn or Google Plus?” (In previous iterations of the 8-year-old survey, the question included MySpace and Friendster. Remember those?)

The survey also found that Twitter is not yet a go-to site among older folks. The survey found that just 5% of people aged 65 and up said they use Twitter, as did 13% of 50- to 64-year-olds, 17% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 30% of 18- to 29-year-olds.

Job seeker? Facebook alone won’t cut it

If you’re a boomer job seeker, using Facebook is not enough to overcome some employers’ perception that older workers are not tech savvy.

Abby Kohut, a career consultant and author, said she urges job seekers to demonstrate that they’re up-to-date on technology.
By Andrea Coombes

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