Real Facts about the Elderly and the World Wide Web

There are lots of stereotypes about the elderly and tech or the world wide web. Many portray the over-sixty crowd as being unable to cope with modern tech.

But is this stereotype correct? That’s what Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, from the site set out to learn. His team compiled all of the information into a comprehensive infographic and the results may surprise you.

We got their help to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces and transcribe the contents for our non-visual readers. Let’s go through the stats one by one.


  • Those of the baby boomer generation spend around 27 hours weekly online.
  • Of the group aged over 65, seven out of ten will go online daily.
  • 82% of those in both groups run searches online related to what they’re interested in.

So, in terms of usage, seniors are a lot more active online than you may have suspected.

Infographic, old man sitting in sofa and statistics around him.

Why do they use it?

  • 78% of seniors say that they like going online because it enables them to find the information that they need easily.
  • 60% of them believe that you can stay up to date when it comes to policy and political issues by surfing the web.
  • For around about a third of seniors, the internet is considered a trustworthy source of information and news.

So, the internet is viewed by many of the elderly as a valuable resource.

Infographic, three statistics about why the elderly use the internet.

The types of information they access

  • Two-thirds of seniors use the web to access weather and the news.

  • 57% shop online.

  • 44% want information about food and cooking.

  • 43% use it to play games. And, boy, is that breaking a long-held stereotype! Just keep in mind that people who pioneered computers and the internet are now in their sixties, so the generation that started it all is actually quite active.

  • Almost half go online to check for coupons, daily deals, and discounts.

Infographics about types of information accessed online.

What can the internet be used for?

  • 20% of seniors communicate with their friends via email.

  • 75% of the elderly go online to communicate with their family and friends.

  • More than half of those who are classified as seniors follow an organization on social media.

  • 40% of seniors who watch videos online do so in order to keep up to date with breaking news.

  • 53% of the elderly research medical or healthcare issues online.

  • 54% of seniors watch videos online for purely entertainment purposes.

  • Half of the seniors say that it’s very important to play games in order to remain sharp. A further 26% state that playing games is extremely important for this reason.

infographics about what the internet can be used for according to the elderly.

Internet usage by category

  • Two-thirds of queries that seniors make online are related to medical or health info.

  • Coming a close second is visits to federal, state, or local sites.

  • A small percentage of seniors do take classes online, but that’s only about 18%.

Infographics showing internet usage by category.

Social media usage

  • A lot has been said online about Facebook being more popular among older users. As one commentator put it, “Facebook is for the parents, Instagram is for the kids.” The stats seem to bear this out here as well.

  • 61% of those aged  50–59, prefer Facebook. For the over-sixty category, Facebook still comes out on top with 36% of users using it.

  • Compared to Facebook, the other main social media sites don’t fair very well with seniors.

  • Of the group aged 60 or over, 5% use Instagram, 6% use Twitter, and only 1% use Snapchat.

Infographic about social media usage.

Some general statistics

  • For the age group 65 and over, 66% of seniors in the United States go online, and only 10% have smartphones. That’s compared to 87% for those in the  50–64 age group, where around 16% of people have a smartphone.

  • The results also highlighted an interesting phenomenon – both seniors with and without disabilities used the internet. You would expect the seniors with disabilities to use it more. You’d be wrong.

  • Seniors in the age bracket of 80 years old or more tend to use the internet and smart-tech the least.

  • The activity that comes out on top on a daily basis for 91% of seniors is to send or read email. 70% of seniors will also run searches at least once a day online.

  • Across all of the older age groups, cell phones are put to good use. Even in the over eighty category, around about 58% of seniors have cell phones. Smartphone adoption, however, decreases with age.

  • In terms of smartphone usage across various categories, seniors do account for the smallest numbers, which indicates that they are not as comfortable with smartphones as they are with regular mobile phones.

  • If you’re aiming to sell to this target group, the conversion rate is highest on the desktop platform at 72%. In this area, seniors come out trumps. Tablets and phones don’t, however, fair nearly as well in terms of conversion rates.

  • Watching TV online is popular with the 50–59 age group. Furthermore, around about 63% in this age group access streaming services online.

  • 22% of disabled adults in the UK have never used the internet.
Infographics about user statistics.

Who doesn’t use the internet?

That’s not to say that all seniors do use the internet. 34% of those who are over 65 don’t go online at all. This is a massive difference when you consider that that figure drops to just 3% for those aged 30–39.


Why don’t some seniors use the internet?

One of the challenges is poor health or a physical condition that doesn’t allow them to easily access the internet. This affects about two out of five seniors. Almost a quarter of the older generation does not believe in looking online for news, etc. They don’t feel as though they are missing out at all.

But, the most prevalent reason by far, in fact in 77% of cases, is simply the lack of knowledge. They need someone to show them exactly what to do and help them until they get the hang of it. In about another quarter of cases, online harassment is cited as the reason to stay offline. About 22% of those in the United States who are fifty or older have been harassed online before.

Infographic about why the elderly choose not to use the internet

So, there you have it – have you changed your thinking as far as the elderly and the internet is concerned?


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