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Older Adults and Internet Use

Written by Kathryn Zickuhr, Mary Madden on 26 November 2013.

As of April 2012, 53% of American adults age 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. As of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so 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 age 65 and older use email, with 48% doing so on a typical day.

Looking at gadget ownership, we find that 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 age 76 and older, 56% report owning a cell phone of some kind, up from 47% of this generation in 2010.

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ABOUT THE SURVEY

The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from March 15 to April 3, 2012, among a sample of 2,254 adults, age 18 and older.  Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (1,351) and cell phone (903, including 410 without a landline phone). For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. For more information, see the Methodology section of this report.

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