Surprise! Grandma’s Using Social Media!

Mar 7, 2012 | Social Media & Online

According to, a project of the Pew Research Center, social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, but older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users. It’s nothing new that kids are connected, but what is new is that they may be connecting to an unexpected friend — a grandparent.

A recent Wall Street Journal article explained the phenomenon as a perfect storm of demographics and technology. The article stated the not so obvious . . . that as a group, grandparents and grandchildren really do have plenty in common: free time, disposable income for gadgets and gizmos, and an interest in staying in touch with people.

As for technology, smartphones, tablet computers and digital cameras have become easier to use and have made staying in touch fun instead of frustrating. Pew Research Center Senior Research Specialist Mary Madden says seniors are taking the plunge into social media because when it comes to their grandchildren, they do not want to be left out of the loop.”

Exactly Who is Using Social Media?

  • The adoption rate has grown 150% among users age 65+ increasing from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011
  • The top 4 online activities for people over 60: Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube
  • People 74+ represent the fastest growing demographic on social media sites
  • The adoption rate has doubled among users age 50-64, increasing from 25% in 2009 to 51% in 2011
  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88% – from 25% to 47%
  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100% – from 22% to 42%
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