Adapting to the Changes of Old Age
INTERESTING STUFF – 30 September 2017

A Portrait of Elders on the Internet and a Book Giveaway

Did you know that the number one reason people 65 and older use social networking websites is to connect with family? I suppose I could have guessed that but since I don't participate in social networks beyond publishing Time Goes By on Facebook (it is set up to happen automatically) in addition to this blog, I was mildly surprised.

The next two reasons for using social networks in this age group are to stay in touch with friends and the number three position is related to work and career although that has dropped from the number one between 2013 and 2016.


I know these things and a lot more due to a new eBook, Social Silver Surfers – Where to Find (and How to Win!) Mature Consumers Online written by my cyberfriend Erin Read and Kimberly Hulett, published this week by their employer, Creative Results.

The company specializes in branding and other useful and usable information for marketing professionals, home builders and developers, and C-suite executives concerned with figuring out ROI (return on investment) in the digital marketplace of old people.

It's not immediately apparent that it's the sort of website I would need or want to read for this blog but it is packed with good, solid information about what old people do online that has been invaluable to me over a lot of years providing of variety of insights about how we grow old on the internet.

I'm featuring some of the findings from their newest survey today because it's always interesting to find out what's going on with one's own tribe (and not, of course, because Erin and her co-writer/researcher have quoted both me and Crabby Old Lady in the book).

Here's a chart of the most popular social networks. Certainly it was easy to guess number one, Facebook by more than half of even the second most popular:


Although email shows up at the bottom of that list as a social network, no one mentions blogs.

Per this latest survey, 38% of social silver surfers say they read or post blogs. And only 28% subscribe to blogs. As Erin and Kimberly explain in the eBook:

”Now, many of them may not realize when they’re reading a blog. Some blogs look just like news websites. Others are considered 'newsletters' or 'messages' by older adults because their subscriptions are delivered by email.

“For example, Erin suggested her mother sign up to receive Erin’s favorite blog. Time Goes By is a fantastically well-written, intelligent, thoughtful and, at times, emotional study of aging in America by journalist Ronni Bennett.

“With permission, Erin entered mom’s email address at and subscribed her. It’s a rare day that Erin’s mom doesn’t start a conversation with 'You’ll never guess what Ronni said in her email today' or 'Ronni’s note to me this morning had the most amazing thing…'

“As if they’re having a personal, one-to-one email conversation, mom and Ronni. (Erin actually does have one-to-one conversations with Ronni and she tattled on her mom. Ronni’s response? 'Oh, I love that I’m writing just for her. Perfect.'

“Which is exactly why so many older adults believe this warm and intelligent writer is sending them personal emails.)”

(You didn't think I'd leave out that part, did you? What's the internet for if not to boast a bit now and then.)

The authors' conclusion about blogs and older people online:

The percentage of social, silver surfers saying they use blogs has increased 9% since 2010.

When mature consumers do subscribe to a blog, it has greater impact. They trust the content coming into their inboxes. They read it and feel personally touched.

It makes sense that old adults have been slower to adopt the internet than younger ones but I was surprised at how few still don't use it:


Here is what Erin and Kimberly say about that:

“Household income, educational attainment and geography play a part – rural Americans are about 2x as likely as urban Americans to never use the internet. Per the US Census, the median age for a rural citizen is 51 years old, vs. 45 years for someone who dwells in an urban area.”

In addition, rural area access to the internet is more limited than for those who live in cities. They are often stuck with dialup because broadband has not reached them yet and so it can be too slow to see the usefulness or entertainment value.

A lot of social media users make purchasing decisions based on what they read on social networks. But take a look at this graph, organized by age group, at what happens as people grow older:


I wonder if that happens because many older people have less money in retirement than when they were working or if they have become more discerning in old age? I can't decide.

This post doesn't scratch the surface of the survey's findings about elders' online lives. There is plenty more to know and if you are not or were not a marketing professional, you can skip those conclusion sections of the book. It's still a great read – a snapshot of us in time.

You can find out more about the book at the Silver Surfers website.

Social Silver Surfers – Where to Find (and How to Win!) Mature Consumers Online, Third Edition, is available to purchase now on Amazon for download to Kindle for $5.95, and will be available at iBooks next week. But Erin and I worked out a deal just for TGB readers. Three winners will receive a PDF copy of the book.

To enter the giveaway, just tell me in the comments below that, “Yes, I want to win one of the books.” Or, you could say, “Me, me, me.” or anything else that indicates your interest.

Winners (you can live in any country) are selected by a random number generator and I will have your email addresses via the comment form to arrange your PDF copy. The contest will remain open through the weekend until 12 midnight Pacific Time on 1 October 2017, and the three winners will be announced in Monday morning's regular post, 2 October 2017.

For non-winners (so sorry), I will supply the link to the Apple iBook version when it becomes available next week.

Congratulations to my friend Erin and to Kimberly for an intriguing and useful update on my age cohort's internet lives.


Love your blog, Ronni -- Hope to win one of the books!

I got my first computer in 1979 and could not live without one..this book sounds fascinating. I'd love a copy.

This book does sound intriguing. Please place my name in the hat for a copy.

Me, me, me!

I love it when I am out and see older people on their devices.

The Internet is my lifeline! I have been active on Twitter and Facebook for 9 years. For many years I wrote blogs, stopped over a year ago while I was sorting out life. Never figured out life, but recently began missing writing. So have decided to start a new blog.

Please, please, please give me a chance at winning the book!

The article made me hungry for more information.

Elder blogs are not a very big niche. Still needed. The only thing that bugs me is the pop ups. They drive me nuts.

Would love to receive this book.

The Pew Research data you posted about web use by seniors is eye-opening.

Yes, I'd like to read this book.

Keep up the good work !!!

Jock Stender
Charleston, South Carolina

I love the internet, this blog, petitions and heads ups (?) about politics, oh, and videos! And the few, friendly daily e-mails.
That said, it isn't real life for me. It's more than a step away, it rarely makes me smile, laugh out loud, get a chill, you know, real life. I think a lot of people love it because it's cleaner than the real life messiness. The financial messiness that's waiting to be straightened on the desk, the breakfast dishes in the sink, friends with needs, relationships that require more awareness than I now possess, my beloved ancient cat, my drought bedraggled gardens, and the painting that's worked its way into a corner. My dear body. The computer world usually doesn't challenge me as the above and more does. OH, but please, please, don't take it away!
I know, I know.........this is complicated. Like most things.

Would love to win the book and share it with my students in my Public Health and Aging Class!

For several years I volunteered in the computer room at the library in a large over-55 community. I remember the times I set up an email account for an "older" person, explained how easy it was to use, and how they could easily connect with their children and grandchildren. Sometimes their reactions were as of I just invented fire. The best part was when they'd come in the next week to use one of the library's computers and come to me all excited to let me know how impressed their kids were and how much fun it was to email.

Totally interested in that publication - please enter me in the giveaway.

I would love a copy! Please enter me!
Also, thank you for your always-engaging posts!

Take me off of the free list. I bought it, ready to read in Kindle on my iPad.

I'm part of an organization for Seniors across Canada, and this book would increase our effectiveness in reaching out to our members.

Me, me, me! Enjoy this blog very much. You're a champion to keep this up while dealing with such serious health issues.

I don't know why other elders are less influenced by media regarding purchasing decisions, but I know why I am: I just don't need much anymore.

A lifetime of collecting has left us with a bigger need to reduce our material holdings than to accumulate more. Now we buy mostly according to needs, such as making life more manageable as we age - replacing heavy dishes with plastic and silicone, the old slow-cooker with an Instant Pot, for example.

I would love to win a copy of this book. Thanks for making the offer of three free copies to some lucky folks. I hope I'm one of them!

I love social media. I learn so much, meet so many people, and feel a real connection to my community through social media.

My top favorites, in order, are Instagram, Twitter, blogs, Facebook, Pinterest.

I'm not interested in the book (too many other things to read about), but I'm glad your friend wrote it as it will be valuable for marketing people to better understand how older folks use the Internet.

I have two friends my age who steadfastly refuse to learn anything about a computer. Is it a coincidence that their conversation is entirely about people and events when they were young? They are typical of the old put-down of being stuck in their ways.

Blogs are sooooo much more pleasant to read than Facebook. The interaction seems more personal on a blog too. But that's apparently how just some of us feel.

Given the popularity of Instagram, maybe it's because people like photos better than text?

I had a friend 20 years my senior who refused to have anything to do with computers because she felt it would be a blight on her activity and interests. She was active, busy and fascinating to talk to so I had no trouble understanding her choice.

How is Ronni feeling? Chemo has little effect I hope?

As is the case with so many others of your readers, I would love to read the whole book. I was not familiar with it and to see it is in a 3rd edition makes me think I am waaay behind the times. Thank you for helping to get me up to date.

Yes, please!

Another Dee...
You're not way behind. Creating Results issued previous, similar surveys in eBook form in 2010 and 2013. Throughout this third version, there are many comparison to what has changed since the first two were released.

I would love one, work with elders in nh also,

ME ME ME PLEASE - I would love to win a PDF copy of the book Social Silver Surfers.
I’m on the verge of retirement and looking to start some kind of home based business to generate a small income to help support myself.
This book will be invaluable to my target market - ‘Silvers’.

Unless you classify blogs as social media, I don't do social media. Never have understood wanting to engage in a lot of idle chitchat with strangers. I use email, phone, or (occasionally) texting to communicate with family. But what I lack in social media use, I more than make up for in every other form of internet use. I'd be lost without it for news, research, blogging, entertainment, etc. It's my lifeline to the world at large.

P.S. Yes, I'd love to be considered for the book.

I even follow u from France where I am on vacation. As my students used to say "you' re the bomb." Really appreciate your wisdom and political insight. I would have felt the book.

Yes, I'd love to be one of the lucky book winners!

Although I find it interesting that older people are not interacting by computer, I am really not interested in getting a free book about it. So, please do not enter me in the drawing for it. I am no longer interested in marketing, whether for elders or youngers. That time in my life is past.

I do purchase some things on-line, but have found that I already own most of what I want/need. The few things I have purchased on-line have been disappointing except for books. I would not again purchase bedspreads or clothing online -- it is impossible to judge fabrics by a photo. The colors online are not true and it is impossible to judge fabric thickness or quality of sewing. The things I have purchased have been quite disappointing. I would rather see/feel/look at items in person than trying to judge quality online. And, I would never purchase shoes online nor would I buy them from a catalog. Even knick-knacks are of lower quality than they appear online or in a catalog.

I would have no problem with purchasing a brand-name product, however, even then you don't know if the quality of name-brand items may suffer because they know how much trouble it is to continually have to return items because they are not up-to-snuff...

Yes, I'm pretty picky!

Sounds like a very interesting book filled with information but I keep reminding myself I'm in the getting rid of stuff stage of life not the acquisition stage. Books are the hardest to resist buying.
My first connection to using computers started in the early sixties when the bank I worked for started converting their savings accounts to computer record keeping. Now I spend far too much time on my computer.

Sure, I'd love to receive the book!

Thank you for the sharing the information. I do not need to be in the giveaway.

I joined the computer world very early on in graduate school and have been involved for over 45 years. I find that Facebook is often annoying so I use it infrequently. My Son in law set up a shared family photo space so we can share photos online without them being available to the whole world. I now read my newspapers on line, get regular podcasts of programs on PBS, watch Netflix on my iPad and do all of my banking online. However, I find it more difficult to keep up with the software changes that come along. It takes me longer to adapt to anything new but I keep going.

I love blogs and read several regularly. There are places and people I never would have learned about or met.

Yes, the book sounds interesting. I'd love to win one.

Erin's appreciation and recognition of you, dear Ronni, is an excellent indication of her intelligence and sensitivity.

I'll give the book a pass. But, Crabby Old Lady, I prefer to address your (deserved) self-back-patting response to the following: “Which is exactly why so many older adults believe this warm and intelligent writer - - ." Yes, Ronni, 'BELIEVE'. The magic word. Were you a charlatan, constantly but surreptitiously 'pushing' a product, or even a family of generally-similar products, that tendency would be apparent to we, your readers. And this comments section would be stuffed with condemnations of your faithlessness to your readers.
But,-- you do not 'push' anything. Your 'product neutrality' is proven. We believe you! And your effortless 'one-to-one-style' friendship becomes, as the writers of Social Silver Surfers note, "warm and intelligent". Now go pat yourself on your back again, Ronni. You deserve it. Just don't break your arm!

Interesting stats. I had my first home computer in the 80's and had several at one (kids). Now I'm down to two, one for me and one for the grandkids (with limited access) I really wouldn't want to be without it. I imagine there will be fewer holdouts sooner than later. I'll pass on the prizes but good luck to everyone else.

WOW! First off, Ronni - thank you so much for sharing some of these data points with your incredible community.
Second, community - thank you for the great reception! Nice to find fellow hard-core Ronni fans. (I'm looking at you, Laura & Tiim.) The Creating Results team & I can't wait to send out the books to the winners next week.

I'm having truly the best time reading the various comments. This one blog post could fuel dozens more!

Social Silver Surfers? I can't resist alliteration…a copy please : Thank you,

Gloria MacKay

I would love to own a copy of the book.

Thank you! ------Estelle R.

Hope to win one of the books. Really interesting/great post, Ronni. Trusting one's sources is almost non-existent these days, but "in TGB, we trust".

Book sounds interesting! Seems most appropriate for inclusion of a quote from TGB's RB -- oh, that's you! -- whose informative and entertaining writing for our aging generations, especially, is noted -- as it well deserves to be.

The statistics bear out what I've experienced from my few remaining living friends and family -- they have no interest in blogging but will read an occasional post of mine if I specifically direct them to it as I sometimes do with recalled tales. They use FB, also a few of those lesser-in-usage-number pgms.

I opened FB and LinkedIn accounts years ago. I soon ceased using FB as I became disillusioned with what I thought was lack of transparency by Zuckerberg (FB founder) with regard to ever-changing privacy protections made only after others disclosed questions of how subscribers information was being used, and weak security. Since I no longer was interested in professional networking or seeking a new position, I haven't posted much to, or used, LI either. Both accounts are still open but I don't actively use them. I've had no interest in the instataneousness knee-jerk dialogue on Twitter except for the value it would have in an emergency or disaster.

I did accidentally launch a blog over ten years ago following my husband's unexpected death. I had became entranced, simultaneously, with learning to use a computer, experiencing the first-time magic associated with encountering the internet and discovering the blogosphere where I found TGB. But after ultimately shedding a period of digital obsession I have more rationally continued to blog with varying consistency. Probably I should have my blog posts set up to appear on FB and LI, but haven't researched how to do that.

There's been such a greedy rush to be first, the biggest, with rapid change, to monetize in the digital world of the internet, that insufficent attention has been paid by the tech world to ensure user privacy and security IMHO. Companies, businesses and government adopting it have been lax, even negligent, in system management. We are only now scratching the surface of abuses in that arena compared to what we'll experience in the future, I'm inclined to believe. Surely all this and how tech and government addresses these issues wil influence statistics such as in this book, those of older users like us, in the years to come.

Meanwhile, in my small corner of the world, contact with those in my life -- who are scattered about 50 States, even with best Calif. friend who lives an hour away -- occurs frequently via IM, text, email, cell or landline phones, occasional postal card and/or letter. My friend uses FB extensively to keep up with her large extended Southern California family, enjoys Podcasts, but not interested in blogging.

One relative in her ninth decade living distantly from me would love to use a computer, but cognitive issues with short term memory, even to follow simple written steps, are beyond her skill level now, though she is a mentally sharp intelligent educated thinker still. She has caring immediate family but no one able or willing, apparently, to commit time providing 1:1 interaction needed so she can share for even a short time in this digital world's pleasures.

I know there are numerous other older non-users in various settings who could or would join the user statistics if they had assistance, but I was never able to facilitate that happening in several local settings despite efforts years earlier. Perhaps the timing wasn't right due to many reasons including limited tech connections available at that time, but the seed was planted. Maybe others could make that happen now.

Goodness, so much has happened in the computer world since I joined it with an Apple 2+ back in 1980. There was a hayes micro modem that connected us to the "internet" and I could watch words march across the screen faster than I could type them! Once while exploring in the early days, I got thru the back door of the Louve. Did I back out of there in a hurry. Wow.

Unlike with Excel, VisiCalc and I were friends, and the word-processing program was (er) usable. DOS was the O/S of the day and "Control C" was the command to erase the complete document, rather than the first half of copy/paste as it is today.

Nevertheless, after learning yet another operating system again, and new and improved programs, I am weary. No more! "Cloud" go away!

Still, I use my computer relentlessly and enjoyably.

I research, play games, read news and books on it. I purchase items that I can no longer get to in department stores, where those things I need are frequently up the escalator and in the back.

And of course, I write comments to this fabulous blog, that I turn to first thing in the AM when you take keyboard in hand, Ronni.

As Curley (of the 3 Stooges) said, "Fascinatin'!" And yes, I'd like to be in the running to read more about elders and the internet.

I'll pass, thanks, on the draw for the book. On the statistics you cite... I wonder how many of those elders not using social media are people like Joared, and me, who took a look at social media sites early on -- and decided we wanted no part of them? Among the oldest old, perhaps not too many. There is still a generation who really did (or do) need hand-holding to discover email.

Surely, though, as time goes on, there will be an increasing number of elders who are quite comfortable with computers, thank you, having used them routinely for most of their working lives, and who in retirement have decided to be selective about which technologies they will use, and which others, they want no part of.

As for me, much of my career was spent advising my employers on the impact of new technologies. I had a lot of practice, which meant I got pretty good at projecting second- and third-order consequences. Back when they first came out I tried Facebook and Google+ and LinkedIn and some others that have since fallen by the wayside. Even then, in their embryo state, they gave me a bad vibe. I decided I did not want personal details of my life to be the product they sold.

These days, we can't get away entirely from being a product. Everyone's doing it. Use the internet at all, and pretty soon we're bound to run into someone collecting data on us. That data is being sold to people who are willing to pay to change our thoughts. Sometimes it's only marketing. Sometimes it's interfering in an election.

Us, us, and us. Or “Yes, we want to win one of the books.”

Redstone and I need another interesting read . . . .

BTW: We are 46 days and 8,400 miles into this journey and still haven't made it to our home state!

We still remember you - and doubt we'll forget.

Yes, thank you, I'd love to win a copy of this book. Sounds absolutely fascinating.

I recently found your blog and I so love your writing and perspective. I, too, would be happy to receive a copy of the book. Thank you for your excellent and insightful writing.

Would love to have this book to share with my computer savvy friends here at the ALF.

Joaberg and Sylvia, I wanted to thank you for both for your thoughtful notes. Sylvia, I can share that, at least for our1 survey respondents, about 4% had decided they wanted nothing to do with social media after giving it a whirl. The most likely to do so were in the 75-84 year old age range (3x as likely as the average respondent to report trying and quitting social media).

When we asked, in a separate question, why they quit they nearly 1/3 of this group said it was because of security / privacy concerns.

Sylvia, you raise an excellent point about the users of social media themselves being the product. In each edition of this survey, we’ve asked “social, silver surfers” what they like and don’t like about social media. Each time, they’re far more vocal about dislikes! That includes 35% of them who feel it’s too commercialized.

You aren’t alone in your bad vibes, Sylvia! How lucky we are to have Ronni and this community of good vibers.

Joaberg, I join you in wishing we had more folks of all ages with time available for digital coaching. Wouldn't that be a great intergenerational program at high schools that require volunteer hours for seniors?

Hope to win one of the books

I'm starting my own business selling healthcare monitors to seniors. I will also be expanding my business next year into home assistance services. I have elderly parents and mother with dementia, so I know all too well how much this product and services would help them.
I am currently doing research on how to market to seniors. This books looks like a genius tool I need!

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