The percentage of older Americans who go online jumped by 47 percent between 2000 and 2004, according to a February 2004 survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
The survey found that 22 percent of Americans age 65 or older reported having access to the Internet, up from 15 percent in 2000. That translates to about 8 million Americans age 65 or older who use the Internet. By contrast, 58 percent of Americans age 50-64, 75 percent of 30-49 year-olds, and 77 percent of 18-29 year-olds currently go online.
The Pew researchers found that "wired seniors" are often as enthusiastic as younger users in the major activities that define online life, such as email and the use of search engines to answer a specific question. Also, wired seniors are as likely as younger users to go online on a typical day.
The survey revealed a sharp growth in the number of older Americans doing key Internet activities such as health searches, e-shopping, and online banking. For example, 66 percent of wired seniors had looked for health or medical information online at some point in their online life by the end of 2003
The survey showed that the gender gap in Internet usage among the elderly has closed. In 2000, about 60 percent of wired seniors were men. In February 2004, the gender ratio had shifted to 50 percent men and 50 percent women '“ the same ratio as in the general Internet population.
The survey also found that there is a burgeoning group of Americans slightly younger than retirees who are vastly more attached to the online world. In February 2004, 62 percent of Americans age 50-58 years old and 46 percent of Americans age 59-68 had Internet access. By contrast, just 17 percent of Americans age 69 and older had access.
In fact, older Baby Boomer Internet users (those between 50-58 years old) are more like Generation X Internet users (those between 28 and 39 years old) than they are like their older generational neighbors (those between 59 and 68 years old).
To read the full report, go to: http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/toc.asp?Report=117