Why Senior Citizens Use the Internet

In the coming weeks, the Advanced Communications Law and Policy Institute (ACLP) at New York Law School and Older Americans Technology Services (OATS) will release their report, “Closing the Broadband Gap: How Seniors are Navigating the Digital Highways.” On Wednesday, April 9th, Dr. John B. Horrigan presented the findings of this report. The study relied on a national telephone survey of senior citizens age 65 and older. It explores why and how senior citizens with broadband connections use the Internet.

Seniors make up a sizable percentage of the United States population. The 2010 Census found that 13 percent of the US population were senior citizens and by 2050 the share is projected to increase to 20 percent. A Pew study found that 47 percent of all seniors have broadband at home.[1]

Figure 1. Motivation for Going Online

Senior Broadband Figure 1

The findings of the ACLP and OATS study are important because they show us the online usage patterns of a growing population that is living in an increasingly digital world. Online proficiency is critical for older adults as Internet access is a major avenue to procure important information about healthcare, finances, and to communicate with family members.

Figure 2. How Seniors Use the Internet

Senior Broadbad Figure 2

 TechTank will stay tuned to this topic and will link to the full report upon release.

[1] Aaron Smith, “Older Adults and Technology Use,” Pew Research: Internet Project. April 3, 2014.