The report surveyed Internet-connected adults in May and found 42 per cent of those aged 50 and older were using social media, up from 22 per cent a year earlier. Among those aged 50 to 64 growth was 88 per cent (47 per cent, compared to 25 per cent a year ago), and among those 65 and older it was 100 per cent (26 per cent, compared to 13 per cent a year ago).
Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social networking tools, but the report found that one in five older adults use them daily. Email continues to be the strongest form of communication digitally for older adults --- it is no longer so for younger adults --- but in the last year Pew found that one in 10 Internet users aged 50 and older now use Twitter or another service to update their networks, double the number of a year ago.
The study also found that online news consumption remains high among older adults. Three-quarters of older adults look to the Internet for news and 42 per cent do so daily. Among those aged 65 and older, 62 per cent use the Internet to consume news and 34 per cent do so daily.
There is an important caveat in the study: It is, like all such studies, a survey of Internet-connected older adults. But it does suggest a swiftly emerging demographic of interest for the news business.