Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Web Secret #139: Generations 2010

The Pew Internet & American Life Project produces yearly reports exploring the impact of the Internet on our lives.

At the end of each calendar year, they dissect how the various living generations are using web based technologies. This past year's report Generations 2010 reported on some fascinating trends.

Not surprising: There are still notable differences by generation in online activities.
Surprising: The dominance of the Millennial generation, (that Pew documented in their 2009 “Generations” report), has slipped in many activities.

Not surprising: Milliennials, ages 18-33, remain more likely to access the internet wirelessly with a laptop or mobile phone. In addition, they still clearly surpass their elders in using social media and playing games online.
Surprising: Internet users in Gen X, ages 34-45, and older cohorts are more likely than Millennials to engage in several online activities, including visiting government websites and getting financial information online.

Not surprising: the very youngest generation differs the most from the oldest generation.
Surprising: Key internet uses are becoming more uniformly popular across all age groups. These online activities include seeking health information, purchasing products, making travel reservations, and downloading podcasts.

EVERYONE is using the Internet and social media in growing numbers, and generational differences are beginning to shrink at a VERY RAPID rate. Consider that social media usage for people ages 74 and older has quadrupled since 2008, from 4% to 16%!

What do these findings really mean? In just a couple of years, age became MUCH less of a digital dividing line, and older people are becoming about as skilled online as younger ones.

How and why did this happen so rapidly?

Good question.

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