Last Updated: July 1, 2024

Are Many Seniors Using the Internet?

Most seniors were born four or five decades before the internet became public on April 30, 1993. But today, over 73% of seniors 65 and older are online daily.

Why have seniors vigorously embraced online use and services? What are they searching for? What are they shopping for? How are seniors using online technology, and what are their favorite platforms?

Why has the internet become an essential part of their lives?

From keeping in touch with family to finding new hobbies, seniors embrace the digital world like never before.

The number of seniors online has steadily increased as technology becomes more accessible and user-friendly. This article explores the number of seniors online, where they are going and why, and how advancing online technology improves their lives.

The Evolution of Online Technology: A Senior’s Journey

a 70 year old senior’s history with technology

Let’s travel down memory lane and see how the internet and technology have evolved, primarily through the eyes of today’s seniors.

Born in a World Before the Internet

If you’re a typical senior today, aged 70, you were born in 1954. Back then, there were no computers, cell phones, or internet. Life revolved around landlines, libraries, and playing outdoors with friends—utterly free from screen time.

The Rise of Personal Computers

In 1977, when you were 23, Apple and Radio Shack introduced their personal computers to the public. These early computers were slow, expensive, and had little memory. Still, they marked the beginning of a new era in technology.

The Birth of the Internet

Fast-forward to 1993, when the Internet became available for public use as the World Wide Web. However, it took off in popularity in 1994 with the introduction of Yahoo and Netscape. You were 40 years old then, and the year ended with about 11 million users worldwide. 

All seniors remember that screeching dial-up modem noise that announced to the whole family that you were going online. Today, high-speed connectivity has transformed the Internet into a global phenomenon with 5.4 billion users, representing 67% of the world’s population.

The Advent of Social Media

Social media started making waves in the early 2000s.

You were 50 when Facebook was launched by three Harvard students in 2004. Initially, many seniors were skeptical, but the platform’s ability to reconnect with old friends and stay updated with family won many over. Today, Facebook boasts 263 million users in the US, including 75% of all seniors. Facebook is the most popular way for people to send pictures of their kids to their grandparents.

You were 52 when Twitter (now rebranded as “X”) was launched in 2006. Despite its concise 140-character limit (now expanded length and including videos), it became a popular way to share quick updates and news. Today, 14% of US seniors use X, contributing to its 160 million US users.

Instagram was launched in 2010 when you were 56. Known for its visually engaging content, it attracted 10 million users in its first year. Today, it has 2 billion users globally, with 15% of US seniors among them.

Video Platforms and Smartphones

senior using technology

You were 51 when YouTube launched in 2005. This platform quickly became a go-to site for videos of all kinds—from educational content to entertainment. Now owned by Google, YouTube has 2.7 billion users, including 51% of all US seniors. As the second most popular online platform, seniors also use YouTube as a search engine to find instructional, informative, and entertaining videos.

The first iPhone was released in 2007 when you were 53. This groundbreaking device revolutionized how people interacted with technology. Today, 61% of seniors over 65 own a smartphone, and 15% use it as their primary means of accessing the internet.

In 2017, when you were 63, the Chinese company ByteDance launched TikTok globally. While it has gained 150 million users in the US, only 10% of US seniors use this app, often associated with younger audiences.

The Modern Internet Landscape for Seniors

Today, the internet is an integral part of seniors’ lives. With easy-to-use smartphones and tablets, going online is a breeze. Seniors use the internet for everything from keeping up with the news to streaming their favorite shows. The best part? It’s never been easier for seniors to stay connected and engaged with the world.

In the US alone, approximately 40.5 million seniors, which is about 75% of the senior population, use the Internet as a part of their daily lives.

From the early days of dial-up to the current high-speed connections, seniors have witnessed and adapted to the monumental technological shifts. This journey reflects not only the evolution of the internet but also the resilience and adaptability of the senior generation.

What Are Seniors Doing Online?

technology for seniors in assisted living

Seniors are using the internet for a variety of activities. They connect with family and friends on social media platforms like Facebook, where over 75% of seniors have accounts. Many seniors also use the internet to stay informed by reading news articles and watching videos on YouTube. Additionally, online shopping has become a popular activity, providing convenience and access to a wide range of products.

Why Are Seniors Embracing Technology?

The Internet offers many benefits for seniors. It allows them to stay in touch with distant family members through video calls and social media. It also provides a wealth of information on topics ranging from health to hobbies, helping seniors stay engaged and informed. Moreover, online services like telehealth have made it easier for seniors to manage their health from home.

How Do Seniors Access the Internet?

technology for seniors in florida

Today, seniors have a variety of ways to access the Internet, reflecting their growing adoption of modern technology. Here’s a look at how many seniors use different devices and some interesting insights into their preferences and behaviors.

Desktops and Laptops

Desktops and laptops remain popular among seniors for accessing the Internet. About 58% of seniors aged 65 and older use a desktop or laptop computer. These devices are often favored for their larger screens, which make reading and navigating websites easier. They are commonly used for activities that benefit from a larger display, such as online shopping, reading news, and managing finances.

Tablets

Tablets are increasingly popular among seniors. A report from AARP found that tablet ownership among seniors has increased, with about 32% of those aged 50 and older owning a tablet​ (Pew Research Center)​.

Tablets offer a compromise between the portability of smartphones and the larger screen sizes of desktops and laptops. Many seniors use tablets to browse the Internet, read e-books, and stream videos. Tablets’ touchscreen interface is often considered user-friendly, especially for those who may find traditional keyboards and mice challenging.

Smartphones

Smartphones have become crucial devices for seniors, with 76% of seniors owning one. Their convenience and portability make them versatile tools for internet access on the go. Seniors use smartphones for various tasks, including staying in touch with family and friends through social media and messaging apps, searching for information, and using apps for health monitoring and other services.

Smartphone-Dependent Users

According to Pew Research, about 15% of seniors are “smartphone-dependent,” meaning they do not have traditional broadband services or computers at home and rely solely on their smartphones for internet access.

This dependency is more common among seniors with lower incomes and those who may find other devices too expensive or complicated to use. For these seniors, smartphones provide an essential connection to the digital world, offering access to information, services, and communication tools.

How Seniors Spend Their Time Online

technology senior living

Seniors have discovered a myriad of ways to enjoy their time online. Here are some of their favorite activities:

  • Social Media: Seniors love staying connected with family and friends on platforms like Facebook. They share photos, comment on posts, and participate in group discussions. Facebook isn’t just a social network; it’s a lifeline for staying in touch and being part of a community.
  • Video Calls: Platforms like Zoom have become essential tools for seniors to see and talk to their loved ones, regardless of distance. Regular video calls help maintain close relationships and provide a sense of presence that phone calls can’t match. Face timing on smartphones is common among seniors and their families.
  • Streaming Services: Seniors enjoy streaming movies, TV shows, and documentaries on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. These services offer a vast library of content, allowing seniors to find entertainment that suits their tastes.
  • Online Shopping: The convenience of online shopping has won over many seniors. Sites like Amazon and Walmart make ordering groceries, clothes, and other essentials easy without leaving home. Many seniors also appreciate the ability to read product reviews and compare prices online.
  • Learning and Hobbies: The internet is a treasure trove of information, and seniors take full advantage of it. From online courses to YouTube tutorials, they learn new skills, pick up hobbies, and stay intellectually engaged.
  • Health and Wellness: Seniors use the Internet to manage their health better. Telehealth appointments, online pharmacy services, and health information websites help them stay informed and take control of their well-being.

What Do Seniors Search for on the Internet?

Seniors search for a variety of information online. Health-related topics are at the top of the list, with many seniors looking for advice on managing chronic conditions, understanding medications, and finding local healthcare providers.

Seniors in assisted living or independent living communities often have apps and portals for online information so that their senior residents can get help, get in touch with maintenance and the staff, and keep up-to-date about all the activities.

For seniors aging in place at home, the Internet has many great sites and communities for helpful information, like AARP, state agencies like the Florida Division of Elder Affairs, and Senior Consulting Advisors articles.

They also search for news updates, weather forecasts, and information on hobbies and interests. Product reviews and recommendations are another common search topic, as seniors want to make informed decisions before purchasing.

What Social Media Do Seniors Use Most?

Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform among seniors (see our infographic for more details). It’s a space to share updates and photos and connect with their social circles. Instagram and Pinterest are also gaining traction among seniors, particularly those interested in visual content and hobbies like cooking, gardening, and DIY projects. These platforms offer a sense of community and connection that many seniors find appealing.

What Are Seniors Watching on YouTube?

Seniors have diverse interests when it comes to YouTube content. Educational videos, such as tutorials and how-tos, are very popular. Many seniors also enjoy watching travel vlogs, cooking shows, and gardening tips. Entertainment content, including classic TV shows, movies, and music videos, attracts seniors looking to relive memories or discover new favorites.

Senior exercise channels are very popular and allow seniors of all physical stages to engage in an exercise program for them. For example, they can join the 87,000-plus seniors who use Fitness by Meredith to stay in shape.

YouTube provides a vast array of content that caters to the varied interests of the senior demographic.

Challenges and Opportunities

senior technology florida

While many seniors have embraced online technology, challenges still exist. Tech literacy can be a barrier, with some seniors feeling intimidated by new gadgets and software.

Security concerns also play a role, as seniors may be wary of online scams and privacy issues. However, there are numerous opportunities to improve technology use among seniors. Education and training programs, user-friendly design, and family support can all help seniors feel more confident and safe online. For example, AARP has a Digital Essentials: Online Safety course for seniors on the Senior Planet YouTube Channel.

Future Trends in Senior Technology Use

Looking ahead, the future of technology use among seniors is bright. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, smart home devices, and virtual reality have the potential to significantly enhance their lives.

These technologies can provide greater independence, improved health monitoring, and new forms of entertainment and socialization.

With voice recognition and AI technology, seniors can access the internet through Siri or Alexa and get instant information, or control their TV screens and home devices.

As tech companies continue to develop solutions for seniors, we can expect to see even higher adoption rates and more innovative uses of technology in this demographic.

Key Takeaways

technology assisted living

Seniors have embraced technology, significantly enhancing their daily lives and connectivity.

Born well before the internet, today’s seniors have witnessed and adapted to monumental technological advancements, from the advent of personal computers to the proliferation of smartphones and social media platforms.

By going online, seniors can effortlessly stay in touch with family and friends, access vital information, and engage in online communities.

Senior Consulting Advisors works with seniors every day as they navigate the choices of aging at home, independent living, assisted living, and memory care when needed. This includes ensuring they and their families have the best technology to stay informed, in touch, and live their best lives.

For online seniors and their families, Florida Senior Consulting Advisors has a wealth of searchable information on these topics on our site.

We are a Florida-based company with expert knowledge of the Florida senior market. While senior options and decisions can seem confusing, this is all we do.

Call us, and we will answer all your questions and help you decide what is best for you and your senior loved one.

To learn more, call us at (800) 969-7176 or visit us at SeniorConsultingAdvisor.com.

 

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Seniors and Online Technology

 

1. How can seniors learn to use new technology? 

Seniors can learn to use new technology through community classes, online tutorials, and workshops offered by libraries and senior centers or even online through AARP and YouTube channels. Family members and friends can also provide one-on-one assistance and encouragement.

2. What are some safe ways for seniors to use the internet?

Seniors can stay safe online by using strong, unique passwords for each account, being cautious of suspicious emails and links, and regularly updating their software. It’s also helpful to use privacy settings on social media and consider installing security software. Sites like the National Cybersecurity Alliance and the Federal Trade Commission have information on keeping seniors safe online.

3. Why do seniors like using Facebook?

Facebook is popular among seniors because it allows them to stay connected with family and friends, share photos and updates, and join groups that match their interests. It’s a user-friendly platform that offers a sense of community – and almost everyone over 30 has a Facebook account.

4. How do seniors benefit from Telehealth services?

Telehealth services provide seniors with convenient access to healthcare professionals without needing to leave their homes. This can be especially beneficial for those with mobility issues or chronic conditions, allowing them to manage their health more effectively.

5. What are some good online hobbies for seniors?

Seniors can enjoy a variety of online hobbies, such as digital photography, genealogy research, learning new languages, and participating in virtual book clubs. Online platforms offer endless opportunities for exploring new interests and staying mentally active.

6. Are there any social media platforms besides Facebook that are popular with seniors?

Yes, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest are also gaining popularity among seniors. Instagram is great for sharing photos and following interests, while Pinterest allows seniors to discover and save ideas related to hobbies and projects.

7. How can technology help seniors stay independent?

Technology can help seniors stay independent by providing tools like smart home devices, health monitoring systems, and online grocery delivery services. These technologies make daily tasks easier and provide support for living independently.

Senior living on your terms. The choice should be yours.

Contact Florida Senior Consulting

(800) 969-7176