A report from the Pew Research Center, covering technology use by Americans 65 and older, reveals two groups. One comprises mostly younger, more highly educated or affluent seniors with relatively substantial technology assets and a positive view about the benefits of online platforms. The other, older and less affluent and often with significant health problem or some degree of disability, is largely disconnected from the digital world’s tools and services, both physically and psychologically.
Internet use and broadband adoption each drop off dramatically around age 75. Some 68% of Americans in their early 70s go online, and 55% have broadband at home. Internet adoption falls to 47% and broadband adoption to 34% among those 75 to 79.
Of seniors with an annual household income of $75,000 or more, 90% go online and 82% have broadband at home. Of seniors earning less than $30,000 annually, 39% go online and 25% have broadband at home.
A majority of seniors with college degrees (87%) go online and 76% are broadband adopters. Among seniors who did not attend college, 40% go online and just 27% have broadband at home.
Around two in five seniors indicate that they have a “physical or health condition that makes reading difficult or challenging” or a “disability, handicap, or chronic disease that prevents them from fully participating in many common daily activities.” This group is significantly less likely than seniors who do not face these physical challenges to go online (49% versus 66%), to have broadband at home (38% versus 53%) and to own most major digital devices.
Older Internet users have strongly positive attitudes about the benefits of online information in their personal lives. Fully 79% of older adults who use the Internet agree with the statement that “people without Internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,” while 94% agree with the statement that “the Internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.”
Non-users are less convinced of the benefits of going online. Half of non-users (49%) agree with the statement that “people lacking Internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,” with 25% agreeing strongly. But 35% of these older non-Net users disagree that they miss out on important information – and 18% of them strongly disagree.
Among other findings:
- More than half (59%) of older adults now use the Internet;
- Almost half (47%) have a high-speed broadband connection at home; and
- Most (77%) have a cell phone (up from 69% in April 2012).