End of age-based digital divide: new study dispels ‘silver surfer’ myths

Older generations just as digitally confident and socially engaged as younger counterparts.

Traditional stereotypes, which contrast tech-savvy youth against older generation technophobes are unfounded, according to our new research.

Our study, ‘The Ageless Internet: From Silver Surfers to Golden Geeks’, challenges the myths around technology adoption and digital media habits among older people. It reveals that confidence in technology and internet usage is as high among the 50+ generations, as it is among 30-49 year olds.

Not only are the 50+ generations digitally savvy, but they don’t see age as an online barrier, access the internet more often, use multiple modern devices such as smartphones, tablets and e-readers and are regular social media users.
Chris Whitelaw, CEO of Displaying Ads, said: “A patronising approach to older generations needs to be put to rest. 50+ feel they are just as confident and as digitally savvy as younger generations.

“Internet and technology usage among older generations presents the classic characteristics of late adopter behaviour. Younger generations’ digital media habits are more advanced only because they have been online longer than their older counterparts. Therefore, less sophisticated online behaviour is due to stage of adoption, rather than age. 70+ came to the internet slower than 50-59 year olds so their skills may be more rudimentary but they are catching-up fast, especially when it comes to online shopping.

“All too often 50+ are lumped together in an all-inclusive category but the research has identified key differences between those in their 50s, 60s and 70s, which cannot be ignored when engaging these distinct groups.”

The survey, conducted throughout March 2014 by Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of Displaying Ads, was based on an online panel of 1012 UK consumers (aged 30+) and designed to unravel the differences and similarities in technology and media attitudes between 50-59 year olds, 60-69 and 70+, who are often artificially placed in a single ‘over-50s’ catch-all category”. These were contrasted with a control group of 30-49 year olds.

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