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How Baby Boomers Use the Web, Social Networks, and Mobile

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Baby Boomers and seniors now spend more time online than watching television, according to a report by Ipsos and Google.

On average, seniors and Boomers (defined in the report as those age 45 or older) spend 19 hours a week online, but they spend 16 hours watching television. Their online usage also far outpaces time spent listening to the radio and reading newspapers/magazines.

Below, additional key findings from the report, Reaching Today's Boomers and Seniors Online, which was based on an online survey of US adults.

Information-Gathering

  • The Internet is the top source for gathering information on topics of interest for Baby Boomers and seniors, outpacing television and print media by a substantial margin. 

  • News and weather is the most popular type of information accessed by Boomers and seniors online (66% accessed in the past month), followed by shopping (57%), coupons/discounts/daily deals (45%), food information (44%), and games (43%).

Online Video 

  • 54% of Boomers/seniors watch online video, compared with 65% of the general population.
  • YouTube is the most popular video site (used by 82% of Boomers/seniors), followed by Facebook (43%), Netflix (23%), and Hulu (23%).
  • The top motivations for viewing online videos include being entertained (63% of respondents), watching funny videos (51%), relaxing (44%), and staying up to date with the latest news (40%).

Social Networks

  • Facebook is the most used social network, with membership on par with that of the general population.
  • Common activities seniors and Boomers engage in on social networks include following groups/organizations (55%), posting/watching videos (40%), supporting causes (26%), and joining groups (23%).
  • Social networking sites are used by the majority of Boomers (71%) and seniors (59%) daily. 

Mobile

  • Mobile usage is still developing among Boomers and seniors: 29% use a smartphone regularly (compared with 48% of the general population), and 19% regularly use a tablet (compared with 25% of the general population).
  • Those who use mobile devices engage in a variety of activities, including looking for information, making purchases, and visiting websites of interest.

About the research: The report was based on a 15-minute online survey of 6,100 US respondents (5,100 Boomers/seniors age 45+ and a general population control cell of 1,000 people) conducted in March 2013.


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Gracious Store Sun Jul 21, 2013 via web

    Boomers are computer savvy, after all they invented the computer even if they did not invent the internet. They use the internet for more serious work as compared to Millennials that use the net for more frivolous things.

  • by GenX Wed Aug 7, 2013 via web

    Hmm, according to the US Census Bureau, Baby Boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964 making the youngest Boomers 49 years of age. Those who are 45 years of age constitute Generation X. So your information here is confusing. I'm actually feeling a bit insulted being lumped into the "Senior" category according to this article at the age of 45.

  • by Luke Wed Jan 1, 2014 via web

    Hey Ayaz, I own a bus tour company specifically focused on retirement communities in Arizona which has about 1 million retirees. On my website I show people my tours, but I really want to get into writing extensively about other heavy interests that seniors search for on the internet, trying to focus on the Phoenix and Tucson communities. The goal is to not only provide information on my tours, but really be a go to source of fun and/or informative information in general. What would you say are the highest searched topics of seniors and how could I better target my specific market? Thanks for your help!

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