Technology Use Increasing for Many Seniors

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. April 06, 2016

Technology Use Increasing for Many Seniors


When I hear people discuss seniors’ use of technology, many generalize that “all seniors” are stuck in the past and resist getting online. According to an April 2014 report by Pew Research Center, more and more seniors are using technology – but the rate varies by factors such as age, education and affluence.

Technology is becoming essential for independent living for seniors – at least for safe and convenient independent living. Think about the ways we use it – getting news and weather alerts, communicating with loved ones, reporting and receiving medical information, making appointments, banking, paying bills, buying products, reviewing services and providers, getting maps to unfamiliar locations, entertaining through online books and movies, securing and monitoring our homes, getting immediate medical or police assistance, making reservations, and of course reading blogs like you find on Safety In Place.

Can you live without technology? Of course you can. Many seniors still do. But the conveniences it affords are increasing rapidly every year.

The Pew report can be read in its entirety at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/.

Highlights from “Older Adults and Technology Use

For all American seniors over the age of 65:

  • 59% of seniors report they go online—a six-percentage point increase in the course of a year
  • 47% have a high-speed broadband connection at home
  • 77% of older adults have a cell phone, up from 69% in April 2012

Seniors continue to lag behind younger Americans (of which 86% use the Internet) (see chart below).

Internet use and broadband adoption among seniors each fall off notably starting at approximately age 75.

  • Some 68% of Americans in their early 70s go online, and 55% have broadband at home.
  • By contrast, internet adoption falls to 47% and broadband adoption falls to 34% among 75-79 year olds.

Affluent and well-educated seniors adopt the internet and broadband at substantially higher rates than those with lower levels of income and educational attainment:

  • Among seniors with an annual household income of $75,000 or more, 90% go online and 82% have broadband at home. For seniors earning less than $30,000 annually, 39% go online and 25% have broadband at home.
  • Fully 87% of seniors with a college degree go online, and 76% are broadband adopters. Among seniors who have not attended college, 40% go online and just 27% have broadband at home.

Around two in five seniors indicate that they have a “physical or health condition that makes reading difficult or challenging” or a “disability, handicap, or chronic disease that prevents them from fully participating in many common daily activities”.

A significant majority of older adults say they need assistance when it comes to using new digital devices. Just 18% would feel comfortable learning to use a new technology device such as a smartphone or tablet on their own, while 77% indicate they would need someone to help walk them through the process.

Among older adults who use the internet, 71% go online every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times per week.

Fully 79% of older adults who use the internet agree with the statement that “people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,” while 94% agree with the statement that “the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.”

Today 46% of online seniors (representing 27% of the total older adult population) use social networking sites such as Facebook, and these social network adopters have more persistent social connections with the people they care about.

The report provides additional details and was updated from the 2012 report.

***

See our Blogs about spammalware, viruses and spyware for more information on how to become a more conscious technology user.

 Fall prevention efforts can reduce the risk of falling. Caregivers and older homeowners can become knowledgeable about what needs to be done to make homes as fall-proof as possible. Check here often and search for product ideas that can make you safer in your home!


Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.

Author

Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.