Tech Use Increases Among Seniors, Study Suggests
Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the August 31 print edition of Caribbean Business
SAN JUAN — According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, people 65 years of age and older in the United States are increasingly adopting the ways of technology, such as internet and mobile device use.
The research, released in May, and headed by Monica Anderson and Andre Perrin, reported that “around four-in-10 (42%) adults ages 65 and older now report owning smartphones, up from just 18% in 2013. Internet use and home broadband adoption among this group have also risen substantially. Today, 67% of seniors use the internet—a 55-percentage-point increase in just less than two decades. And for the first time, half of older [U.S.] Americans now have broadband at home.”
However, the report states many seniors are still disconnected from digital technology. One-third of adults ages 65 and older say they never use the internet, and roughly half (49%) say they do not have home broadband services. In addition, the proportion of seniors who say they own smartphones is 42 percentage points lower than those ages 18 to 64.
Factors such as age, household income and educational attainment influence the technology adoption trends within the older adult population as well. The study reports that seniors ages 65 to 69 are about twice as likely as those ages 80 and older to say they ever go online (82% vs. 44%) or have broadband at home (66% vs. 28%), and they are roughly four times as likely to say they own a smartphone (59% vs. 17%). Furthermore, technology-adoption rates also vary greatly by household income, with “fully 87% of seniors living in households earning $75,000 or more a year saying they have home broadband, compared with just 27% of seniors whose annual household income is below $30,000.” Educational differences follow a similar pattern, with college graduates adopting technology at much higher rates than seniors with lower levels of formal education, according to the study.
While some 34% of older internet users say they have little to no confidence in their ability to use electronic devices to perform online tasks, and 48% say that when they acquire a new electronic device they need someone else to show them how to use it, the study states that “older [U.S.] Americans who use the internet tend to view technology in a positive light and incorporate digital technology into their everyday lives.”
The study reported that fully 58% of adults ages 65 and older say technology has had a mostly positive impact on society, while roughly three-quarters of internet-using seniors say they go online on a daily basis, and nearly one in 10 go online almost constantly.
According to the study, the Census Bureau reports a record 46 million seniors living in the U.S., representing 15% of the nation’s overall population, and projections suggest that by 2050, 22% of U.S. Americans will be age 65 and older.