Some 68 per cent of all European internet users aged 55 years and over now use broadband at their main point of internet connection, according to new research from the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA
Broadband adoption amongst silver surfers is also growing at a faster rate than the average European internet user (26 per cent year on year growth compared to 14 per cent).
This increase in broadband penetration is leading to major changes in the way this older generation are communicating and spending their leisure time.
The 'EIAA Silver Surfers Report', explores these changes and reveals interesting insights into their digital lifestyles.
This older demographic now spends an average of 8.8 hours online per week - a growth of 18 per cent since 2005 - and 78 per cent of the time they spend online is for personal reasons rather than work.
One in four log on to the internet in a typical week and weekend use is growing at a rate of 19 per cent year on year.
The internet is quickly becoming a key communication tool for this generation and they are developing a much deeper level of involvement with online content.
Use of online forums has seen significant growth of 113 per cent since 2005, with 17 per cent of silver surfers now regularly visiting these sites.
The research also dispels the myth that social networking is the domain of the young, nearly one in five (18 per cent) visit sites such as MySpace and Bebo at least once a month - not that far behind the younger digital generation (16-34 year old internet users), 28 per cent of whom regularly access social networking sites.
Making the most of the convenience and costs savings of VoIP is becoming rapidly more popular with this older generation.
Some 14 per cent now regularly make calls over the internet, illustrating 100 per cent year on year growth and further evidence that this group are becoming ever more tech savvy.
Silver surfers are also making the most of the entertainment available online. 21 per cent now listen to the radio online, 7 per cent have downloaded TV programmes and films – 40 per cent year on year growth since 2005 and 7 per cent are enjoying online gaming.
The research reveals the wide array of websites that the older demographic are using to enrich different areas of their life.
Travel and holiday sites are particularly popular with this group - an indication of the increased leisure time and disposable income that this group enjoy. 60 per cent visit travel sites and 55 per cent visit holiday sites (7 per cent and 6 per cent higher than the average European internet users respectively).
Their research also converts into purchases, with 47 per cent having bought travel tickets online and 32 per cent having bought a holiday online.
Using email and carrying out searches online seems to be second nature, with 83 per cent regularly carrying out both activities. Keeping up to date with current affairs and news is also important, with nearly two thirds of silver surfers visiting online news sites (61 per cent).
Some 61 per cent of users of all media aged 55 and over cite that the internet provides what they want quickly and saves time and more and more are carrying out some of their day to day tasks online.
Over half (53 per cent) of all of these users now use online banking and finance sites.
Three-quarters (74 per cent) of internet users aged 55 and over have shopped online, buying an average of 7 items and spending €830 in a six month period; well above the average online shopper (€750). 38 per cent are using price comparison sites and books (29 per cent) and electrical goods (18 per cent) prove popular online goods.Alison Fennah, Executive Director of the EIAA said, “It is interesting to see the effect that increased broadband penetration is having on how silver surfers are communicating and spending their leisure time.
“There is huge growth in usage of online tools made popular by Web 2.0 and we expect this exponential growth to continue as the internet plays an even bigger part in the daily lives of this slightly older demographic. “
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