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Internet Seniority

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They go to Google most often. Then they stop by Windows Media Player to get their tunes on. From there, they log onto their Facebook profiles to see what their friends are up to. "They" are seniors... and not the ones in high school. According to Simply Amplify (see links), Facebook is the third most popular website for Internet users over the age of 65. Not only are senior citizens the fastest growing United States demographic, but 55-75-year-olds are the fastest growing internet population.

There are several reasons for this trend. First and foremost is the time factor. Retirement and an empty nest leave empty hours in the day. More leisure time often means more screen time. This is also a period to reflect on goals. Home improvements, neglected hobbies, higher education, and travel all become targets for research. If the research leads to making a purchase, analysts estimate that seniors possess as much as 70% of the country's disposable income, some of which finds its way to internet retailers.

In addition to tangible needs, there is also a desire to stay connected socially. Planning outings become easier when event calendars and maps are only a click away. Many clubs and organizations have already figured this out, and they have added specific senior sections or pages to their websites. Likewise, if the easiest way to reach the grandkids is through a social networking site, so be it! Even if bad weather or health challenges keep one inside, the internet can serve as a lifeline to family, community, or institutions of faith.

For many reasons, and in many ways, the mature adult population is making the Internet part of their daily lives. There is certainly no foreseeable end to this trend. As more seniors gain confidence in the security of their favorite websites, as well as in their own computer skills, more rocking chairs are being traded in for laptops. Don't be surprised if one day the local senior center closely resembles your favorite Wi-Fi cafe. (Just remember that grandpa takes an extra shot of espresso in his latte.)