Fast Company

Senior Moment: Tweetin' Grannies and Gramps Outpace Social Whippersnappers

old man

Pew has just revealed results from its Internet and American Life Project survey and found that the fastest growing demographic adopting social media is folks over 50.

All age groups are continuing to leap aboard the social networking bandwagon--and the younger age bracket is still the dominant group. But in the 50-and-up bracket, use of social networking has almost doubled from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010. If you're talking about the 50- to 64-year-old bracket, the figure leaped from 25% to 47%, and for those over 65 the figure shot from 13% of the population using social nets to 26%. Seventy-six percent of young users 18 to 29 used social nets in 2009, and this rose to 86% this year, in comparison.

Other data from the survey of 2,200 American adults also revealed growing interest among older users in social status sites like Twitter: 11% of older Americans now have used Twitter or a similar site this year, versus just 5% last year--and 6% of the age bracket do so on a daily basis, compared to just 1% in 2009.

The report's author, Mary Madden, notes that this is significant because while email is still "the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families, and colleagues," the older generation are leaping to adopt social media to manage communications in numbers that makes gains among the younger age group "pale in comparison." Why is this happening? Pew doesn't make any attempt to dig into the reasoning, but it's likely to be partly natural--adoption of new tech propagating up through the age groups, similar to the old "silver surfer" phenomenon--and services like Twitter and Facebook finding expanding business uses as promotional tools, and as business-to-consumer contact systems.

There's just one negative side effect: The previous thorny problem of whether to "friend" your parents on Facebook has probably now extended to include your granny too.

Image via Flicker magical-world.

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