PERSONAL NOTE: In December, freelancereporter Debbie Reslock interviewed me about my pancreatic cancer experience for the Next Avenue website. Her story was published this week and you can read it here.
Do you use Facebook? How about Twitter? Or Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit? Have you got a smartphone? A tablet? A home assistant like Alexa maybe?
For many years, polls showed that elders' use of technology trailed way behind that of youth and younger adults. That's changed now. We're catching up.
According to the recent Technology Use and Attitudes among Mid-Life and Older Americans report from AARP, more than 90 percent of Americans age 50 and older own a desktop or laptop, 70 percent own a smartphone and more than 40 percent own a tablet.
Here's a chart showing device usage by the 50-and-older cohort. (Larger version here [pdf] – scroll down to page 7)
As the report explains:
”Traditional activities dominate computer use for adults over 50, but a sizeable minority are using their device to manage medical care or learn online.
“Among those who own such devices, top activities include surfing the internet, making purchases, getting news, and banking.
“Adults 70+ do fewer activities on their computers than those under 70, with a couple exceptions such as gaming (over half play games on their computer) and email.”
According to another factoid, apparently I am not keeping up by abstaining from texting:
”Nine in ten (91%) of those with devices say they use technology to stay in touch with friends and family.
“Among those under 70, text messaging has overtaken email as the tool most used to stay connected, though most use three channels (email, texts, and social media).”
In addition, 72 percent of the 50-plus crowd use some form(s) of social media - 75 percent of those age 50-69; 65 percent of people 70 and older.
Most frequent online activities start with email (68%), browing the internet (63%), getting weather (63%) and checking social media (58%). It looks like not many of us are dating which comes in dead last on the activities list at one percent.
Me? Well, I'm not dating online (or anywhere else) but if you don't count texting, most of my life is online. I read a large number of news, information and opinion sites, fool around on YouTube and other video websites, email, weather, banking, bill paying, Skype, track all my medical information (including making appointments, asking questions, etc.), shopping, research for this blog and for personal curiosity, not to mention writing and coding the blog, track down podcasts and music – and I'm certain I've left out more.
One other thing: unlike the 58 percent of 50-plus Americans who spend time with social media, I use Facebook and Twitter ONLY as automatic distribution channels for TimeGoesBy - which accounts for my lack of response to readers who leave comments and questions on Facebook.
My goal is to spend less time online, not more, but that's not going well.
It is gratifying to see the growth of internet use by old people. So much of our lives is moving online that a growing amount of important and/or useful information is not even available anywhere else. Note the growing number of times you see in print such directives as “For more information, visit our website at ...” whether we like it that way or not.
It is the oldest old who either do not use the internet at all or use much less of it than younger people but that will change as they (we?) die off.
So, your job to day is to tell us how you use the internet, what you like, what you don't like, what you wish you could change and your thoughts in general on how the internet has become such a large part of daily life.
Here are links to the Technology Use and Attitudes among Mid-Life and Older Americans report from AARP: