In a report published by the Center For Media Research and reprinted here, surveys through 2008 by the Pew Internet and American Life Project show that a larger percentages of older generations are online now than in the past, and they are doing more activities online. Generation X (not Y) is the most likely group to bank, shop, and look for health information online. Boomers are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation internet users are competitive when it comes to email.
The biggest increase in internet use since 2005 is the 70-75 year-old age group. While just over one-fourth (26%) of 70-75 year olds were online in 2005, 45% of that age group is currently online, and doing more activities online.
Instant messaging, social networking, and blogging have gained ground as communications tools, but email remains the most popular online activity, particularly among older internet users, writes Sydney Jones and Susannah Fox in the report. 74% of internet users age 64 and older send and receive email, making email the most popular online activity for this age group. 89% of teens claimed to use email in 2004. Now, just 73% currently say they use email.
Teens and Generation Y (age 18-32) are more likely than their older counterparts to seek entertainment through online videos, online games, and virtual worlds, and they are also more likely to download music to listen to later.
78% of 12-17 year-old internet users play games online
73% of online teens email, the second most popular activity for this age group
50% of Generation Y play online games
The report says that health questions drive internet users age 73 and older to the internet just as frequently as they drive Generation Y. Researching health information is the third most popular online activity with the most senior age group, after email and online search.
Generation X (ages 33-44) continues to lead in online shopping:
80% of Generation X internet users buy products online
71% of internet users ages 18- 32 buy products online
38% of online teens buy products online
56% of internet users ages 64-72 do
47% of internet users age 73 and older buy online
67% of Generation X internet users lead in online banking, while
57% of Generation Y to do their banking online, up from 38% in 2005. There has been no significant growth among older generations when it comes to banking online
Downloading videos is now being done more equally across all generations under 73 years old.
31% of Generation X claim to download videos as of 2007
38% of Generation Y downloaded videos
13% of G.I. Generation internet users (age 73+) reported downloading videos, up from 1% in 2005
13% of the online Silent Generation (ages 64-72) say they download videos, up from 8% in 2005
Who are these people…
The writers note, in summary, that “…contrary to the image of Generation Y as the ‘Net Generation,’ internet users in their 20s do not dominate every aspect of online life.”