Forget Medicare and Social Security: Seniors are embracing Facebook

Adoption of the social networking site among U.S. adults 65 and older keeps growing

In Facebook's new Paper app, stories appear to unfold as they are opened

In Facebook's new Paper app, stories appear to unfold as they are opened

If some kids are turned off by Facebook because their parents are on it, now they might be even more horrified: Grandparents are flocking to the social networking site.

For the first time, more than half of all online adults 65 and older in the U.S. use Facebook -- 56 percent specifically -- according to a Pew Research Center survey. That represents 31 percent of all seniors, according to Pew, which surveyed 2,003 American adults by cell and landline this past September.

On the whole, Facebook saw little change in its membership from 2013 to 2014, Pew said, but the rising adoption among older adults was an exception.

Usage of Facebook among seniors has been creeping up since at least 2012. In late 2013, 45 percent of seniors using the Internet were on it, up from 35 percent in 2012.

"We know from previous research that social networking sites provide seniors with links to social support and that they value the way social media helps them to say connected to friends and family," said Lee Rainie, director of Internet, science and technology research at the Pew Research Center. Pew released other findings last year showing that seniors are increasing their use of the Internet overall.

And, while some older adults might not initially understand the benefits of joining social media sites, as social media use becomes more common, seniors may have more friends and family who can help them overcome technology barriers, Rainie said.

Then there are seniors who are tech savvy.

"I have long been into media of all kinds, led there by my digital approach to Shakespeare," said Richard Regan, a retired English professor who taught Web-enhanced courses that incorporated streaming video of different Shakespeare plays.

However, he added that Facebook -- and Apple's FaceTime -- helps him keep in touch with family and friends.

To be clear, Facebook is still the most popular social network, with 71 percent of all Internet users on it, but that level of usage is unchanged from 2013. Other services like Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook-owned Instagram saw healthy growth in usage between 2013 and 2014, according to Pew.

For Twitter, usage among online adults grew from 18 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2014. Twenty-six percent of online adults now use Instagram, up from 17 percent in 2013. And 28 percent of adults use Pinterest, up from 21 percent in 2013, with women dominating the site.

Also, 28 percent of online adults use LinkedIn, up from 22 percent in 2013, with college grads continuing to dominate use of the site. Plus, for the first time, the share of Internet users with college educations using LinkedIn reached 50 percent.

Clearly, there's an awful lot of social networking going on. And more adults are multi-tasking, with more than half using two or more social media sites, Pew said Friday. But Facebook still acts as "home base" -- it's the most popular site for people who use only one site, and has significant overlap with other sites. There are more Facebook users now who also use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, Pew said.

And while Facebook helps many people keep in touch with family and friends, some of those "friends" might get short shrift. The median number of Facebook friends is 155, Pew reported, but when asked to approximate how many of their Facebook friends respondents considered to be "actual" friends, the number dropped to 50.

Pew said its survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesInstagramsocial networkingtwittermobilesocial mediainternetFacebookPinterest

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?