Seniors Bridging the Digital Divide Despite Doubters

BY Courtney Huckabay
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Mobile devices have rapidly become one of the most common ways for Americans to get news, and the sharpest growth in the past year has been among Americans ages 50 and older, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

"This is a 24-​percentage-​point increase over the past year and about three times the share of four years ago, when less than a quarter of those 65 and older got news on mobile (22%)."

In fact, the new AudienceSCAN survey showed 34% of seniors are using Android smartphones and 23% are using iPhones.

"The strong growth carries through to those in the next-​highest age bracket," Kristine Lu wrote. "Among 50- to 64-​year-​olds, 79% now get news on mobile, nearly double the share in 2013. The growth rate was much less steep – or nonexistent – for those younger than 50."

The AudienceSCAN study found 22% of seniors watched an online or streamed video from their mobile devices in the past six months, and 9.5% of seniors read the local newspaper via their website or app.

"Heightened adoption of mobile devices for news among older adults is due in part to the fact that they had considerably more room to grow than younger adults. Among those ages 50 to 64 and those 65 and older, increases of 16 and 24 points respectively in the past year have resulted in majorities in every age group now getting news on mobile. A recent Pew Research Center report similarly found a sharp rise in overall technology adoption among older Americans."

Chances are, seniors are checking their email on their phones too. Marketers can reach seniors through mobile emails. The AudienceSCAN data revealed 38% of seniors took action after reading emailed ads/​newsletters.

"Even though a large number of older adults are getting news on mobile devices, that doesn’t mean they prefer it. Across all adults, a clear majority of those who get news on both mobile devices and desktop/​laptop computers prefer to get their news on mobile (65%). But those 65 and older are the only age group in which less than half prefer to do so: Only 44% prefer mobile, compared with about three-​quarters of those 18 to 29 (77%), figures that have remained steady for both groups over the past year. In the next-​highest age group, those 50 to 64, about half now prefer to get their news on mobile (54%), up from about four-​in-​ten (41%) a year ago."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.