Social Networking Increases for Boomers, Plateaus for Gen Yers

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Gone are the days of grandma knitting and grandpa reading and both of them wanting to have nothing to do with those newfangled computers. Instead, baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are the fastest growing users of social networking sites, like Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Meanwhile, use of these sites and services among younger users, Generation Y users (those born between the late 1970s and the early 1990s), has plateaued.

This is all according to Accenture’s recently released Consumer Electronics Usage Survey, which found that over the last year, the percentage of boomers:

  • Playing video games on their cellphones grew to 13 percent from 9 percent
  • Listening to music on an MP3 player grew to 31 percent from 21 percent
  • Reading blogs or listening to podcasts grew to 28 percent from 18 percent
  • Watching and posting of videos on the Internet grew to 36 percent from 26 percent
  • Using social-networking sites grew to 28 percent from 18 percent

Use of social networking among Generation Y consumers, those between the ages of 17 to 33, has not increased nearly as greatly as it has for boomers; in fact, use for that group has remained flat and even declined in some areas:

  • Playing video games on their cellphones grew 1%
  • Listening to music on an MP3 player grew 8%
  • Reading blogs or listening to podcasts remained flat
  • Watching and posting of videos on the Internet dropped 2 %
  • Using social-networking sites grew 2%

Read a summary of the survey here.

Accenture conjectures that boomers are taking up these technologies because they will be in the labor force longer than originally planned, thanks to dwindling retirement funds; and/or they want to keep up with children and grandchildren that use these technologies.

Accenture also says that “generation Y’s cravings for consumer technology applications are leveling off,” noting decreases in: virtual world participation (such as Second Life), blog authorship, wiki contribution, participation in communities of interest, watching videos on cellphones and even cable TV watching.

Are either of these results surprising? With our work with active adult and retirement communities, the boomer results are no surprise at all. We all probably have a mom, great aunt or teacher from 30 years ago that got on Facebook in the last year. What is interesting is the fact that use among the most technologically savvy individuals in history are reducing their use of technology. Are they tired of it? Is it losing its luster? Are they opting for more conventional, face-to-face communications and interaction? Returning to letter writing and book reading? It should be interesting to see!