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The Technology Habits of Americans Age 50 and Older

by Ayaz Nanji  |  
March 15, 2018
  |  2,152 views

Most Americans age 50 and older are texting to keep in touch, using both a computer and smartphone, and connecting via social media, according to recent research from AARP.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in November 2017 among a nationally representative sample of 1,520 adults in the United States age 50 and older.

Most respondents (91%) say they use technology to connect with friends and family.

Some 86% use text messaging to connect, and 72% use social media to connect (up 112% since 2011).


Some 92% of Americans age 50+ use a laptop or desktop. Adults age 70+ are more likely to use a traditional desktop computer than Americans age 50-69.

Some 70% of respondents use a smartphone, 43% use a tablet, 23% use an e-reader, and 7% use a home assistant.


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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 Peter Altschuler Thu Mar 15, 2018 via web

    These are facts without context (though that's nothing new in contemporary research).

    What is the "why" behind these numbers? Do people over 50 rely on larger devices because it's easier to read the text and menu items on a desktop/laptop than on a smartphone? Is it because they want to have multiple windows open at once? Is it due to speed -- a high-bandwidth home/office connection as opposed to a smartphone's 4G connection?

    The numbers beg for more detail about the size of the smartphone, too. For the 28% who manage healthcare on their phones, is that an average of standard and larger screen models, such as an iPhone 8 and 8 Plus? If only the larger models were involved, would the percentage be higher?

    And where are the numbers for "The Multi-Use Tablet"? How does behavior change as the screen size increases?

    As a marketer, these numbers have to be viewed as "interesting," not "actionable."

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