Social networking is growing faster among older internet users in the UK, according to a new study from telecoms regulator Ofcom. While growth rates are lower among younger demographics (where social networking use is already widespread), internet users ages 55+ have shown strong growth in social network use.
Based on data from 2012, internet users ages 55-64 were the only group with a “significant increase” in social networking growth: more than one-third (35%) created a social networking profile last year – up from 24% in 2011. Internet users ages 65+ also had a strong showing: one quarter of this demographic (25%) set up a social network profile in 2012.
Keeping in touch with friends and family is the motivating factor behind social networking use for this demographic: 64% of those 55+ with a social network profile use it to contact friends and family they rarely see.
Growth was much slower for younger age groups, although most users in that age already have a profile; TechCrunch also notes that as older users join social networking sites in greater numbers, younger users might be encouraged to “take more of their chatter elsewhere.” This coincides with recent speculation that the larger social networks are losing popularity among younger users, who are instead flocking to newer sites like Snapchat and Vine.
Overall, the study revealed that nearly two-thirds (64%) UK adult Internet users had a social networking presence in 2012 — up from 59% in 2011.
In addition, UK users are visiting social networks more often: half of UK adults with social networking profiles check it more than once a day, up from 35% in 2011.
What do you think – will increasing numbers of older users on social networks drive younger users to newer platforms?