Internet usage among seniors increasing
Many resources are available for seniors to start taking advantage of all the web has to offer.
Data from the Pew Research Center indicates that "internet adoption among seniors has risen steadily over the last decade and a half. When the Center began tracking internet adoption in early 2000, just 14% of seniors were internet users. But today (2017), 67% of adults ages 65 and older say they go online. The share of seniors who subscribe to home broadband services has also risen – albeit at a slower rate than internet use. Around half of seniors (51%) now say they have high-speed internet at home. This represents a modest uptick from 2013, when 47% of older adults were broadband adopters."
Further, "the share of adults ages 65 and up who own smartphones has risen 24 percentage points (from 18% to 42%) since 2013. Today, roughly half of older adults who own cellphones have some type of smartphone; in 2013, that share was just 23%."
“The perception is that Americans over 50 only dabble on the internet, but we are finding that they are increasingly spending time online and becoming involved in robust internet activities, such as online communities,” said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California.
How seniors use the internet
Internet use among seniors primarily reflects that of the general public with, "34% of Americans ages 65 and up say(ing) they use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter."
“They (seniors) are using the internet to keep up with the world and the people who are important to them,” said Jean Koppen, Market Insights Director at AARP.
A Nielson Report revealed that viewing and sending personal email was the most popular online activity for those 65 and older, followed by: viewing and printing maps online, checking weather, paying and viewing bills, viewing and posting photos, reading general and political news, checking personal health care information, planning leisure travel trips, searching for recipes and meal planning suggestions, and reading business or finance news.
Benefits of internet use
For those with limited experience, attempting to grasp the internet can appear an overwhelming task. But gradually learning how to effectively navigate the web, and find sites that are important to you, can yield tremendous benefits.
Access to a wealth of knowledge:
From health resources to breaking news to how-to-guides, the internet is a robust informational tool.
Increased social opportunities:
The internet allows people worlds apart to communicate with ease through video conferencing, email, social networks, chat rooms, and discussion forums.
Improved mental health:
The Phoenix Center, a non-profit organization that studies public-policy issues, found that “spending time online reduces depression by 20 percent in senior citizens” after examining survey responses from 7,000 retired Americans over the age of 55.
“Maintaining relationships with friends and family at a time in life when mobility becomes increasingly limited is challenging for the elderly,” said Dr. Sherry G. Ford, the study’s co-author. “Increased internet access and use by senior citizens enables them to connect with sources of social support when face-to-face interaction becomes more difficult.”
Enhanced brain function:
UCLA discovered that “surfing the web for only a week stimulated areas of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning in middle-aged and older adults with little internet experience.”
Resources for seniors
Seniors may learn how to navigate the internet and operate computers in an assortment of ways. Area colleges, universities or community centers usually offer classes, and seniors can find many step-by-step books or ask younger family members for guidance.