Pew Studies the Graying of Social Media


A new Pew Research report finds social networking sites are gaining traction with adult Internet users as sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn engage the largest share of adults to date.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project reports that two-thirds of adult Internet users (65%) say they use a social networking site, up from 61% percent in 2010 and 29% in 2008.

“The pace with which new users have flocked to social networking sites has been staggering; when we first asked about social networking sites in February of 2005, just 8 percent of Internet users—or 5 percent of all adults—said they used them,” wrote report co-authors Mary Madden and Kathryn Zickuhr.

This marks the first time in Pew Internet surveys that 50% of all adults use social networking sites.[more]

While frequency of social networking site usage among young adults under age 30 remains stable with 61% of Americans in that age cohort using social networking sites on a typical day, (up 1% from last year) among Boomer’s, 50-64, social networking site usage on a typical day grew a significant 60% (from 20% to 32%). 

On a given day, only e-mail and search engines are used more than social networks by adult Internet users said the report. 

“The graying of social networking sites continues, but the oldest users are still far less likely to be making regular use of these tools. While seniors are testing the waters, many Baby Boomers are beginning to make a trip to the social media pool part of their daily routine,” said Madden.

Asked for one word to describe their social networking sites, “good” was the most common response; positive responses outweighed negative and neutral words; users repeatedly described their experiences as “fun,” “great,” “interesting” and “convenient.” 

Nearly 80 million Baby Boomers turned 65 this year, “officially” considered senior citizens. This most recent Pew report is a snapshot of a nation embracing digital communications to a breadth and degree heretofore unimagined, with far-reaching implications for every facet of ordinary and extraordinary daily living as these new technologies redefine aging, connectivity and commerce.