Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Older adults and internet use

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

For the first time, half of adults ages 65 and older are online

As of April 2012, 53% of American adults ages 65 and older use the internet or email. Though these adults are still less likely than all other age groups to use the internet, the latest data represent the first time that half of seniors are going online. After several years of very little growth among this group, these gains are significant.

Overall, 82% of all American adults ages 18 and older say they use the internet or email at least occasionally, and 67% do so on a typical day.

Once online, most seniors make internet use a regular part of their lives.

For most online seniors, internet use is a daily fixture in their lives. Among internet users ages 65 and older, 70% use the internet on a typical day. (Overall, 82% of all adult internet users go online on an average day.)

After age 75, internet and broadband use drops off significantly.

Internet usage is much less prevalent among members of the “G.I. Generation” (adults who are currently ages 76 and older)1 than among other age groups. As of April 2012, internet adoption among this group has only reached 34%, while home broadband use has inched up to 21%.

Seven in ten seniors own a cell phone, up from 57% two years ago.

A growing share of seniors own a cell phone. Some 69% of adults ages 65 and older report that they have a mobile phone, up from 57% in May 2010. Even among those currently ages 76 and older, 56% report owning a cell phone of some kind, up from 47% of this generation in 2010. Despite these increases, however, older adults are less likely than other age groups to own these devices. Some 88% of all adults own a cell phone, including 95% of those ages 18-29.

One in three online seniors uses social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Social networking site use among seniors has grown significantly over the past few years: From April 2009 to May 2011, for instance, social networking site use among internet users ages 65 and older grew 150%, from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011. As of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users ages 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day. Among all adult internet users, 66% use social networking sites (including 86% of those ages 18-29), with 48% of adult internet users making use of these sites on a typical day.

By comparison, email use continues to be the bedrock of online communications for seniors. As of August 2011, 86% of internet users ages 65 and older use email, with 48% doing so on a typical day. Among all adult internet users, 91% use email, with 59% doing so on a typical day.

About the Pew Internet Project

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is an initiative of the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. The Pew Internet Project explores the impact of the internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care and civic/political life. The Project is nonpartisan and takes no position on policy issues. Support for the Project is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. More information is available at

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents