Elders take to social networking in a big way
Date of Publishing:30/8/2010
SOCIAL networking groups are no more an exclusive domain of teenagers or youngsters, as it was a few years back, but are currently catering to more for all those who are older, but still young at heart.
The phenomenal growth of Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites in the past year has come in partly because of a surge in adoption by older members, showed a US poll released on Friday. It provided a surprising new measure for how fast baby boomers and seniors are adopting online social networks to bridge generations and geography.
A new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project says the number of social networking users aged 50 and older nearly doubled in the past year, continuing the trend of strong growth that was first spotted last year.
In fact, for adults aged 50 to 64, the use of social networking sites have jumped by 88% in the past year, the study found. For those 65 and older, it has doubled. The younger generation remains the biggest users of Facebook and other sites. But the report shows that seniors currently make up the fastest-growing group. "It's surprising to see just how fast they are growing," said Mary Madden, senior research specialist and author of Pew’s study. The Pew centre points to several factors that contribute to why Facebook is no more for kids anymore.
Using Facebook to find old friends and colleagues isn't unique to any one demographic, but Pew says roughly seven out of 10 people have used social networks for this purpose. Roughly half of adults aged 50 and above have been contacted by someone from their past through a social network. As people retire or change careers, social networking can be a way to stay in touch or get support.
Pew notes that internet users with chronic diseases are more likely to blog or participate in online discussions, and older folks are more likely to have these diseases. Put those two factors together, and you've got a strong argument for social networking as a way to find communities of people with similar experiences. Pew says older folks may use social networks to connect with their progeny, despite results that it "can sometimes be messy".