Research


Generations Online in 2009


PEW INTERNET PROJECT DATA MEMO

Contrary to the image of Generation Y (Born 1977-1990, Ages 18-32) as the "Net Generation," Internet users in their 20s do not dominate every aspect of online life. Generation X (Born 1965-1976, Ages 33-44) is the most likely group to bank, shop, and look for health information online. Boomers (Younger Boomers: Born 1955-1964, Ages 45-54 and Older Boomers: Born 1946-1954, Ages 55-63) are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation (Born 1937-1945, Ages 64-72) Internet users are competitive when it comes to email (although teens might point out that this is proof that email is for old people).

The web continues to be populated largely by younger generations, as over half of the adult Internet population is between 18 and 44 years old. But larger percentages of older generations are online now than in the past, and they are doing more activities online, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project surveys taken from 2006-2008. The biggest increase in Internet use since 2005 can be seen in the 70-75 year-old age group. While just over one-fourth (26%) of 70-75 year olds were online in 2005, 45% of that age group is currently online. Much as it is to watch demographic and age groups move up in "degrees of access", it can be expected to see these bars become more level as time goes on. For now, though, young people dominate the online population. Instant messaging, social networking, and blogging have gained ground as communications tools, but email remains the most popular online activity, particularly among older Internet users.

Teens and Generation Y (Internet users age 18-32) are the most likely groups to use the Internet for entertainment and for communicating with friends and family. These younger generations are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to seek entertainment through online videos, online games, and virtual worlds, and they are also more likely to download music to listen to later. Internet users ages 12-32 are more likely than older users to read other people’s blogs and to write their own; they are also considerably more likely than older generations to use social networking sites and to create profiles on those sites.

Younger Internet users often use personal blogs to update friends on their lives, and they use social networking sites to keep track of and communicate with friends. Teen and Generation Y users are also significantly more likely than older generations to send instant messages to friends. By a large margin, younger Internet users’ favourite online activity is game playing; 78% of 12-17 year-old Internet users play games online, compared with 73% of online teens who email, the second most popular activity for this age group. Online teens are also significantly more likely to play games than any other generation, including Generation Y, only half (50%) of whom play online games.
   Click to download the corresponding pdf-document (0.089 MB)



Available on the website since April 17, 2009
  •