Boomers Don't Shun Digital Technology But Adopt at Slower Rate

Although an increasing number of baby boomers own smartphones and belong to social networks, boomers — especially older ones — still tend to be less digitally engaged than younger consumers, according to eMarketer’s new report, “Baby Boomers and the Digital Life: From Pioneers to Laggards.” 

While a majority of boomers go online on a typical day, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, it’s not the landslide one finds among younger adults. “Marketers can safely assume they’ll find most 20-​somethings online on a typical day. They shouldn’t have the same assurance about boomers,” said eMarketer.


The mobile internet is another area where boomers trail younger age groups. eMarketer estimates that 42.6% of boomers who have mobile phones are mobile internet users. Among Generation X (now ages 32 to 47), six in 10 are in that category. More boomers will buy smartphones and above-​average growth in mobile internet penetration among boomers will narrow but not close the gap during the next several years, according to eMarketer projections.

”Though boomers tend to be less digitally engaged than younger adults in many areas, it would be a mistake to assume their usage is low across the board,” said eMarketer. “Boomers are not averse to engaging in digital activities whose practical benefit is clear to them.”


Email is a prime example. Boomers are about as likely as younger internet users to use email. And in this instance, boomers don’t fall behind younger cohorts in frequency of usage. In February 2012 Pew polling, six in 10 boomers reported using email “yesterday,” essentially matching the 30-​to-​49 and 18-​to-​29 age groups.

Marketers who approach boomers online shouldn’t mislead themselves with the illusion that boomers are as immersed in the digital life as younger people are. Boomers are the desktop, Web 1.0 generation. They don’t shun digital technology, but neither should marketers expect to find them adopting every new twist in it.

[Source:  “Baby Boomers and the Digital Life: From Pioneers to Laggards.”  eMarketer.  13 Aug. 2012.  Web.  17 Aug. 2012.]