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As of April 2012, 53% of American adults age 65 and older use the Internet or email, according to the report Adults and Internet Use from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Though these adults are still less likely than all other age groups to use the Internet, the latest data represent the first time that more than half of seniors are going online. After several years of very little growth among this group, these gains are significant.
Overall, 82% of all American adults ages 18 and older say they use the Internet or email, at least occasionally, and 67% do so on a typical day.
For most online seniors, Internet use is a daily fixture in their lives. Among Internet users age 65 and older, 70% use the Internet on a typical day. (Overall, 82% of all adult Internet users go online on an average day.)
Internet usage is much less prevalent among members the “G.I. Generation” (adults who are currently age 76 and older) than among other age groups. As of April 2012, Internet adoption among this group has only reached 34%, while home broadband use has inched up to 21%.
A growing share of seniors own a cell phone. Some 69% of adults ages 65 and older report that they have a mobile phone, up from 57% in May 2010. Even among those currently age 76 and older, 56% report owning a cell phone of some kind, up from 47% of this generation in 2010.
Despite these increases, however, older are less likely than other age groups to own these devices. Some 88% of all adults own a cell phone, including 95% of those ages 18-29.
Social networking site use among seniors has grown significantly over the past few years: From April 2009 to May 2011, for instance, social networking site use among Internet users age 65 and older grew 150%, from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011. As of February 2012, one third (34%) of Internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day. Among all adult Internet users, 66% use social networking sites (including 86% of those ages 18-29), with 48% of adult Internet users making use of these sites on a typical day.
By comparison, email use continues to be the bedrock of online communications for seniors. As of August 2011, 86% of Internet users age 65 and older use email, with 48% doing so on a typical day. Among all adult Internet users, 91% use email, with 59% doing so on a typical day. Among all adult Internet users, 91% use email, with 59% doing so on a typical day.