In the last five years, the number of people 65 and over using the internet has increased 55 percent, according to Nielsen. “The over 65 crowd represents about 13% of the total population and with this increase in online usage, they are beginning to catch up with their offline numbers,” said Nielsen's Chuck Shilling. “Looking at what they’re doing online, it makes sense they’re engaged in many of the same activities that dominate other age segments – e-mail, sharing photos, social networking, checking out the latest news and weather – and it’s worth noting that a good percentage of them are spending time with age-appropriate pursuits such as leisure travel, personal health care and financial concerns,” Shilling said.
The media tends to treat ‘over 65’ like it's a monolithic group, but the truth is that many of today’s seniors were in their forties and fifties when the internet became popular, so it shouldn’t seem so surprising to see that they use the same technologies that other age groups do.
The big problem with ‘over 65’ and that one that will have to be addressed as life expectancy continues to expand, is that the category is way too broad, encompassing as it does everyone over 65. Some people in that group, for example, were in their mid thirties when the personal computer became popular in the early 80s, while others (like my grandmother) were already seniors when the current technological age began.
This is why ‘over 65’ stats are weirdly skewed, but also the reason that more and more members of this group ‘become’ more tech savvy every year.
So it is time to rethink ‘over 65’ as a demographic, as well as as a congruent group facing technology.