Older Generations Are Catching Up With Technology Use

Older generations that are using technology are catching up to Millenials according to recent studies by the Pew Research Center.

The Pew Research Center defines generations by when they were born. Millenials are turning 22 to 37 years old, Baby Boomers are 54 to 72 and the Silent Generation is 73 to 90 this year. According to Pew, defined generations are a tool researchers can use to analyze changes in view and interaction with society. Pew has seen some upward trends of technology use with their data pertaining to older groups, which could help them define future generations as well.

“Generations provide the opportunity to look at Americans both by their place in the life cycle – whether a young adult, a middle-aged parent or a retiree – and by their membership in a cohort of individuals who were born at a similar time,” said Michael Dimock, President of the Pew Research Center.

While 92 percent of Millenials own smartphones, 85 percent of Gen Xers, 67 percent of Baby Boomers and 30 percent of the Silent Generation do as well. In addition, Gen Xers surpass Millenials by 10 percent with tablet use, perhaps as alternatives to the less visually friendly smartphones.

“The implications of growing up in an ‘always on’ technological environment are only now coming into focus. Recent research has shown dramatic shifts in youth behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles – both positive and concerning – for those who came of age in this era,” Dimock said.

The vast majority of internet users feel that the internet is good for them personally, while younger users are more likely to state that the internet is positive for society. Americans view the internet more negatively now than they did four years ago, the sentiment being led by Gen Xers who have dropped 11 percent in their approval. Millenials and Gen Xers are about equal in their internet usage; 97 percent of Millenials 96 percent of Gen Xers are users. This means, while more people are using the internet than before, they don’t approve as much as they did in previous years.

“While younger and older adults may differ in their views at a given moment, generational cohorts allow researchers to examine how today’s older adults felt about a given issue when they themselves were young, as well as to describe how the trajectory of views might differ across generations” Dimock said.

Social Media and platform use are also some of the factors in the Center’s decision to establish 1996 as the birth year of millennials. When it comes to social media Millenials still have the lead at 85 percent compared to Gen Xers at 75 percent. Gen Xers have increased in percentage of users by 11 percent in the past six years compared to Millenials who have remained stagnant.

“As has been the case in the past, this means that the differences within generations can be just as great as the differences across generations, and the youngest and oldest within a commonly defined cohort may feel more in common with bordering generations than the one to which they are assigned,” Dimock said.

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