by Kas Kunz
Currently I exchange emails with family members and friends that range in age from junior high to almost 90. They’re all comfortable in sending attachments, downloading photos, sending videos, links to things they want to share, and doing other activities on the computer that's past being a novice. It's all driven by a desire to communicate, to stay in touch, because of distance — living a couple hours away to across the country from each other.
You can find Web sites and online communities geared towards specific age groups such as Grandparents.com to children's Web sites that are sites for young children's museums located in a number of major U.S. cities, and community sites geared towards parents. There are social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook that initially started out for the teenagers and college students. Now these social sites have a wide range of adult age groups using their service. What does this mean? At this point in the life of the Internet all age groups have a place to hang-out if they so choose.
It's a natural progression for age groups to shift and change with different services and how we view and use technology as we grow older. As new communities and services are introduced online and if it's one that catches on there are early adopters who try it out — then word gets around and its popularity grows until it becomes something the population at large starts to use. The more frequently they're used the more successful it's deemed. It ends up being used for personal and business or geared towards one or the other.
The driving factor regardless of age, personal or business is the desire to communicate, to make a connection. The reason the Internet was created — to make it easier to share information. What is unique right now is the age at which a person's experience with today's technology began and what's the benefit for them to use it.
The company Accenture for the past two years has been conducting research about the usage patterns of various types of consumer technology products and services among U.S. consumers. The goal was to determine if there had been any changes in usage between Baby Boomers (age 45 and older) and Generation Y (ages 18 to 24). Here are a few interesting trends their research uncovered:
- Baby Boomers are embracing consumer technology applications nearly 20 times faster than the younger generation;
- Generation Y's cravings for consumer technology applications are leveling off;
- Boomers increased their rate of reading blogs and listening to podcasts by 67 percent year-over-year. That's nearly 80 times faster than Gen Y (1 percent);
- Boomers posted a 59 percent increase in use of social networking sites — more than 30 times faster than Gen Y (2 percent).
To find out more you can download the full PDF article here with their findings by Kumu Puri on Accenture's 2009 Consumer Electronics Usage Survey.
Technology and Internet services we use today has been with us long enough the 'age factor' is becoming less of 'the point' to think about. The point has become more of what, how, and where are the different age groups using it and why.
Share with us your thoughts on these findings.