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Survey: Older Americans Flocking To Social Media

Teenagers have been grappling with a tough question lately: What do I do when mom tries to friend me on Facebook?

Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, whippersnappers. There’s a new dilemma you better start thinking about: What do you do when grandma sends a friend request?

That’s more and more likely according to a new report out today from the Pew Internet & American Life Project on social media usage among … ahem … old folks. (Not much older than me, frankly.) The numbers are pretty amazing. Pew finds that social media usage among folks 65 years and older doubled between 2009 and 2010. In the 50 to 64 age group, it went up 88 percent.


This year, Pew says, almost half (47%) of adults between 50 and 64 years old use social networking sites, and more than a quarter (26%) of senior citizens do the same. Among all adults, social media usage jumped 33% over the past year, with nearly two-thirds of all U.S. adults involved in social networking online.

More specifically, Twitter usage is also on the rise among older adults. Pew says that 11% of the 50-64 crowd and 5% of the 65+ crowd use Twitter or a similar service to post status updates about themselves or read updates from others.

Pew suggests three reasons for the growing popularity of social networking among older Americans:

  1. It enables them to reconnect with people from their past.
  2. It enables them to find support in times of poor health and chronic disease.
  3. It enables communication across generation gaps.

Pew’s study was done in May of this year and involved telephone surveys of more than 2,200 U.S. adults.

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