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Posted on 12.29.2010

New Pew Study Reveals How Different Generations Use the Internet

December 29th, 2010 There is no debating the prevalence of online communications in today’s culture. Targeting your online marketing strategies to reach the audiences important to your organization’s success requires understanding how people access and use the Internet. Generations 2010, a recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, reveals trends by generation in the online activities of Americans and indicates shifts in those patterns in the year since Pew published its first Generations study in 2009. Not surprisingly, Pew’s most recent study found Millennials, Americans age 18-33, remain more likely than older generations to access the Internet through a wireless connection from their laptop or mobile device. They also surpass other generations in their use of social networking and instant messaging. Millennials listen to music online more often and play more online games, and they use online classified ads, read blogs and participate in virtual worlds more often than older generations. Older generations, however, are closing the gap in other areas, including utilization of online communications, online entertainment participation, and use of social network sites like Facebook. The study also found Gen X, ages 34-45, and their elders more likely than Millennials to use government websites or obtain financial information online. According to the Pew study, searching for health information is now the third most popular online activity for all Internet users ages 18 and above. No longer is health information being sought primarily by just older adults. Another somewhat surprising finding is the decline of the popularity of blogging among younger Americans. The study reports that only about half as many teens blog today as they did in 2006, with declines in blogging also among the Millennial generation. Younger Internet users today seem increasingly likely to post updates and share information about their lives via social networking sites or Twitter rather than blogs. The percentage of American adults who use the Internet has remained somewhat steady since 2006, Pew finds, with 79 percent of all adults going online in 2010. Millennials lead the way at 95 percent with older generations following at 86 percent utilization for Gen X, 81 percent for younger Baby Boomers ages 46-55, and 76 percent for older Boomers ages 56-64. More than half of Americans ages 65-73 ( 58 percent) go online, and Internet utilization among Americans age 74 and above is 30 percent. The over-representation of younger adults in the total online population is an important factor for marketers to keep in mind. While adults age 45 and younger make up 49 percent of the total adult population, they represent 56 percent of the online population, with Millennials representing 35 percent of all American adult Internet users. For more information about how Americans are using the Internet and the activities they engage in by generation, read Generations 2010 in its entirety online. For additional information from the Pew Research Center, including trends in broadband adoption and wireless Internet use, visit www.pewInternet.org.

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