For 40 years to over 70’s, online is not all about the kids or grandchildren


Sharing survey data results.

The Oldies Media Aware Study (#omasunisa) continues to explore the growing use of online technologies, specifically those benefitting the older generation. In particular, ways forward to support and encourage connections between our older generation via various online platforms for them to thrive. The main purpose for social media platforms is to connect with others, share stuff, to have conversations. If you remove the fact that it’s online, this is something all people enjoy doing and seek out ways to do. Every day. People have networked for centuries, through clubs and organisations, as well as informal networks of family and friends.

Social media provides the opportunity to have and be a friend, to congregate without leaving the house, to never be alone even when you are the only one in the house.

The survey came about from a personal desire to better understand online use for the over 40’s (to any older age).

To look at the use of social media now, and into the future. 

There was a lot of information easily available about online and social media use globally, however I found it was generally looking at the younger demographic or population and in the main it was American based (June 2014). I wanted to get a better understanding of use by an older demographic who, in the main, lived in Australia. I used private online social media networks to share and encourage my results.

The results were impressive but surprising.

‘Having conversations with others my age’ took up 35% and 18% added ‘connecting with professional friends’, creating the assumption people really DON’T go online to check on the kids, they go online to work and play.

Sample Data

Here is a snapshot:

162 completed the survey

Female 70%

Male 30%

Of this, the age spread went like…

  1. Over 40 29.01% 47
  2. Over 50 37.65% 61
  3. Over 60 25.31% 41
  4. Over 70 8.02% 13

As far as the why’s summarised…

79% log into social media networks (e.g. Facebook, Google+, etc.) more than once a day with 80% having Facebook as their main driver to get online. Google and Twitter ranked however not significantly and some mention was made for Instagram and Pinterest.

While we would assume talking to the kids or grandchildren to be the highest ranking activity these over 40 years would be doing, the majority selected “networking my arse off (socialising)” as the favourite activity. In fact 67% consider this the main reason they go online.

Only 21% of respondents claim they go online to check the kids. Breathe easy kids.

The disappointing aspect which has been a focus since this survey was completed and the results first analysed, was 88% had never heard of, nor participated in microvolunteering activities. This is a respondent’s statement:

Without social media I would feel very lonely! I know there are clubs I can go to, but I prefer to be at home. I do not have a car and I hate public transport and walking is difficult for me!

A microvolunteering task gives back to society from a person’s home and can help to reduce the sense of social isolation. It is one direction we will continue to focus this study.

General social media quotes from respondents:

Facebook is great for sharing good news, not a great help when times are tough, e.g.. death of a family member or redundancy. Particularly when many of your connections are ex work mates! Having a closed group for family on FB is very useful, especially when our family is spread across many states, which happens all too often for us. LinkedIn is useful for professional linkages, such as the one we have!

I use Facebook Google+ Twitter (for work) LinkedIn (for networking) Pinterest but not a lot – more seasonal for Christmas ideas .

Connecting to and communicating with people who are interesting, witty, emotional and informative. Some times there are people with an axe to grind, nastiness and intolerance can be found, but goodwill outnumbers it by a huge margin.

It has been great to reconnect with old friends and keep in touch with new ones. It expands our friendship group which, whilst we may not physically “see” some of our “friends” all that often, it provides snapshots of their life which you can comment on, or not, as you feel. I think that used with caution, social media is all in all a good thing.

or,

Mixed. Great way to keep in contact with people who are separated from you by distance and great to update info for likers but easy to get sucked into reading more then you have time for. An hour can pass very quickly.

I use two distinct platforms. Twitter for professional use. Facebook for socialising. Both suit my purposes.

Great way to connect and or socialise in the gaps of a busy life, or when you can’t otherwise get out and physically connect.

or,

I like some aspects.. Keeping in touch with friends younger than me, or in different countries or, with LinkedIn, people i’ve worked with over the years and lost track of. Some of my friends use Facebook all the time; i prefer to use it occasionally. I have turned off the advertising monitoring function (or whatever you call it) because i don’t want my information and preferences used without my knowledge. I can’t see the point in telling people what i had for lunch but can see the point in a number of other aspects. Eg communicating with a group or an audience or spreading the word about causes I’m passionate about. I’m also a member of a group dedicated to an organisation i was a member of years ago and it’s great to see the pics and memories people post. I figure social media is here to stay, so I might as well go with the flow, but on my own terms.

And in summary – this says it all:

Good to “catch up” and see what my friends are doing.

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