Younger adults are by far the most likely group to use social network sites such as Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn—83% of adults 33 and younger currently use them. However, older generations have seen the most dramatic growth over the past two years. Social network site use by Younger Boomers (ages 46-55) increased 30 percentage points over the past two years, from 20% in December 2008 to 50% in May 2010, and Older Boomers (ages 56-64) jumped 34 percentage points, from 9% in 2008 to 43% in 2010. The fastest rate of growth was seen among the oldest generation of internet users, as the percentage of adults age 74 and older who use social network sites quadrupled from 4% in December 2008 to 16% in May 2010. Use of these services for all online adults in this time period increased from 35% to 61% over that same time period.
There are several possible reasons for online social networking’s increased popularity among older adults. While seniors still rely on email as their main form of online communication, social network sites allow users to reconnect with people from the past, find supporting communities to deal with a chronic disease, or connect with younger generations—all of which may drive social network site use among older generations.