As social media has grown dramatically in recent years, older adults have been especially excited about embracing new networking technologies.

According to a recent Pew Research Study, social media use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010. Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47% while use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%.

One in five online older adults ages 50-64 said they use social networking sites on a typical day, with 13% of older adults ages 65 and older logging on. At the same time, the use of status update services like Twitter and LinkedIn has also grown—particularly among those ages 50-64 with one in ten internet users ages 50 and older now using a social media service to share or receive updates.

Whereas email continues to be the primary source of online correspondence for older adult users, many now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications. A driving force behind social media adoption by older adult users is in their ability to network and interact with multiple generations from the comfort of their own home.

“Social media has the potential to bridge generational gaps,” said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist for the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and author of the report. “There are few other spaces—online or offline—where tweens, teens, sandwich generation members, grandparents, friends and neighbors regularly intersect and communicate across the same network.”


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