Here’s What Tech Device Adoption Looks Like in the 50+ Market

March 9, 2018

Seven in 10 Americans ages 50 and older own a smartphone, reveals the AARP in a new report [pdf]. That includes a majority (55%) of adults ages 70 and up, a considerably higher figure than previously found by the Pew Research Center. Laptop (62%) and desktop (61%) ownership is also prevalent in the 50+ market, while more than 4 in 10 (43%) own tablets, per the AARP’s study.

Previous data from Adobe indicates that most online adults ages 50 and older feel that they’re at least moderately digital-savvy.

What Does the 50+ Market Do on Desktops & Laptops?

The AARP report demonstrates that surfing the web is the top activity performed on desktops and laptops, by 81% of their 50+ owners. Roughly three-quarters of desktop and laptop owners in this demographic make purchases on their devices, while a majority (65%) also perform banking or financial transactions. Close to 6 in 10 access social networking sites on their desktops and laptops, but fewer engage in online learning (34%) and manage or receive medical care (32%).

Adults in their 50s and 60s are more likely to perform a range of activities on their desktops and laptops than those 70 and up. Such activities include leading ones such as surfing the web and making purchases, but also extend to comparative shopping and watching videos or shows. In fact, while around half of computer users in their 50s and 60s watch digital video, fewer than one-third of owners ages 70 and up do so.

Even so, there are some activities that are more apt to be performed by older desktop and laptop users. These include playing games, sending or receiving instant messages or emails, and managing or receiving medical care.

Overall, computer users in the 50+ market average almost 8 (7.7) activities on their devices, though that figure is lower (7.1) among the 70+ crowd.

Purchases Aren’t So Common on Tablets

As with desktops and laptop owners, tablet owners in the 50+ market use their devices most commonly to visit websites or surf the internet (71%).

But unlike computer owners, for whom shopping is a primary activity, just 42% of tablet owners make purchases on those devices.

Instead, tablet owners favor media and entertainment activities such as getting news, downloading apps, messaging and emailing, playing games and accessing social media sites.

Once again, those in their 50s and 60s tend to perform various activities to a greater degree than their older counterparts. That’s especially true for surfing the internet, downloading apps, watching digital video, and engaging in shopping activity, whether that be making a purchase or comparative shopping for discounts and deals.

Among tablet owners, those in their 60s lead the way in posting reviews, using a voice-activated assistant, and managing or receiving medical care.

Tablet owners average about one activity fewer (6.5) on their devices than computer users. And the gap between younger and older users is wider on tablets than computers, too, as those in their 50s average about 2 more activities than those ages 70 and up (7.1 and 5.2, respectively).

The full report is available to view here [pdf].

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 1,520 US adults ages 50 and older.

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