Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

Social Media and Baby Boomers

March 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 137

Social media usage among baby boomers is increasing, but it still lags in usage as compared to successive generations. Introduction to the internet for most boomers is focused on email and basic e-commerce applications. Somehow many boomers managed to live without computers really touching their life for several decades, and when the internet arrived, they were not early adapters of the trend, but found themselves dragged into its use. Now social media is truly a part of our social fabric and has many benefits, and yet many baby boomers still hesitate to embrace social media applications in a similar way they resisted adapting the computers and the internet. Hesitation to go online is often not because of lack of interest but because many technologies and social technologies are not developed with older people in mind.

What is social media?

When I ask baby boomers what they believe social media is, I get varying answers, but in the end the answer is usually popular social network sites such as, Facebook. So I offer this definition for future reference:

Social media includes web-based and mobile technologies for social interaction as a super-set, which goes beyond social communication. Enabled by ubiquitously accessible and scalable communication techniques, social media has substantially changed the way organizations, communities, and individuals communicate.

Facebook and other social networking sites are just one element of social media. There are currently six different categories of social media: collaborative projects (e.g., Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (e.g., Twitter), content communities (e.g., YouTube), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g. Social Life), and social markets (e.g. Groupon). Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs (a form of blogging for which the medium is video, and is a form of Web television), wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing and voice over IP. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms (the process of collecting content from multiple social network services, such as Twitter or Facebook). These categories will continue to evolve as new forms of collaboration is introduced.

A good analogy is, "social media is to social networking as fruit is to bananas." There are other forms of social media as there are other forms of fruit.

Adoption Rate Lags for Boomers

A Pew Internet & American Life Project (Rainie, 2010) compared internet usage of baby boomers to internet usage of the millennial generation, ages 18 to 32. Results found that boomers internet usage is very similar to millennial usage in regard to emails and e-commerce:

Emails: Boomers 91% vs. Millennial 94% Search Engines: Boomers 88% vs. Millennial 89% Health Info: Boomers 78% vs. Millennial 85% Get News: Boomers 74% vs. Millennial 83% Research Products: Boomers 81% vs. Millennial 83% Buy Goods: Boomers 70% vs. Millennial 81% Travel Reservations: Boomers 68% vs. Millennial 62% Banking: Boomers 55% vs. Millennial 58% Auction: Boomers 27% vs. Millennial 26%

The overall composite score of this survey is boomers 70 percent and millennial 73 percent. Clearly, usage is very similar between generations for internet applications involving the basic search functions, email use and e-commence of the internet. But when social media usage was surveyed the differences were quite significant:

Video Sharing Sites: Boomers 45% vs. Millennial 85% Use of Social Network Sites: Boomers 39% vs. Millennial 81% Rate Product/Services: Boomers 27% vs. Millennial 38% Read Blogs: Boomers 26% vs. Millennial 51% Post Comments: Boomers 25% vs. Millennial 33% Share Creations: Boomers 23% vs. Millennial 38% Have Websites: Boomers 11% vs. Millennial 18% Twitter: Boomers 10% vs. Millennial 29% Blog: Boomers 8% vs. Millennial 18%

The composite score for use of social media is boomers 23 percent and millennial 43 percent, boomers social media usage is nearly half of millennial usage. Now, this research is a couple of years old and the overall adoption has proportionally increased, but it's unlikely that the gap between generation has changed substantially. Many boomers have established a presence on sites like Twitter and Facebook which counts for social media usage, but rarely is it used to communicate with others in their generation. Instead, much of the increase in Twitter and Facebook accounts by baby boomers are related to business and not for personal use. The reason for this is in part how baby boomers were educated and how they organize data.

A Generation Gap May Explain Differences

The bifurcation in social media use can be explained in large part by the differences in early development of each generation. Oddly enough differences between people of a younger generation and their elders are termed the generation gap. A term popularized in Western cultures during the 60s and at a time when baby boomers were expressing their displeasure with society.

It is a fact baby boomers were raised in an environment that was much different than the millennial generation. Baby Boomers grew up in an era that was much more structured. Boomers played by the rules and focused on building careers. They would wait for news in newspapers, write letters to communicate with distant family and friends, write checks and go to a bank to do business, and participate in face to face meetings at the office.

The millennial age prefers more informal arrangements. They are known to be more independent, flexible, and incredibly sophisticated with technology. They grew up with technology and have been exposed to it since early childhood. From the internet, IM and MP3s to handheld video games, mobile phones and texting, the millennial generation is used to tactile, instant, and constant communication. They prefer to communicate via blogs, IMs and text messages, rather than on the phone or face to face, methods preferred by Boomers.

These differences are evident in the study above. E-mails and e-commerce applications are accepted by baby boomers because these applications are very structured, for example; there is a section for the address, subject, and message within e-mails. In e-commerce, there is a product selection, a shopping cart and checkout process. A structure well defined and in keeping with the way boomers were trained to think in life. Not surprisingly, these applications were developed by a generation of baby boomers.

In contrast, a social media application works in a virtual setting and requires much more abstract thinking. For example, a social network is made up of "friends," many of who you may not know. Messages are sent by leaving comments instead of directing it to a particular individual. It's a different way of thinking for baby boomers, so it is difficult for a structured mind to comprehend. The advancing computing concept of "The Cloud" is another virtual concept that is difficult for many baby boomers to understand. A commonality between the advancing computing concepts and social media is that they are being developed and driven by members of the millennial generation.

With upcoming advances in technology and the Internet, we will continue to see bifurcation in adoptions of these advances primarily because of the differing perspectives in the formative years between the creators and the baby boomer users. Although bifurcation is evident, there are many important benefits for baby boomers to stay involved and to participate in a virtual world. Exploring these benefits will be the subject of subsequent articles. 

Mr. Mercier, owner and creator of, has made it his mission to help his generation stay involved in, and educated on, the rapidly changing technology of today's modern world. The result is, a website designed specifically for the demographic of 50-and-over to catch up with friends and find new ones.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

Social Media


Baby Boomers


Baby Boomer Social Media Usage


Aging Boomers


Millennial Generation

Since time immemorial unscrupulous folk have existed. The world continues to see them and they would continue to exist to the end of the world. The best you could do is sensitizing yourself to detect

By: Zuneaoy l Home & Family > Crafts Supplies l December 11, 2012 lViews: 582

What does it take to find the best prices and greatest selection when searching for jewelry supplies? Because jewelry making has become such a popular hobby, there is no shortage of locations where

By: Zuneaoy l Home & Family > Crafts Hobbies l December 11, 2012 lViews: 250

You can purchase the same thing online for a much cheaper price. Now, granted, you may find that some beads and snake bracelets are just as expensive as at the store, but you will find that online

By: Zuneaoy l Home & Family > Crafts Supplies l December 07, 2012 lViews: 331

Arborist is simply called as the nature maker in the words of a poet. They really make your garden clean, healthy and tidy. When you are having tress at your place it is necessary to check them up or

By: noragwilt l Home & Family > Gardening l November 20, 2012 lViews: 311

To make sure you gain true protection, it is of paramount importance that these covers ought to be durable and strong. To make sure you gain true protection, it is of paramount importance that these

By: Simon Liva l Home & Family > Entertaining l November 16, 2012 lViews: 269

If you wish to throw a birthday celebration party, you should have a lot of money. A number of people think that if perhaps they cannot dedicate such a lot money for the celebration, it won’t

By: jhoel mojokuvic l Home & Family > Entertaining l November 12, 2012 lViews: 286

Getting ready to sell your home? Before putting a 'For Sale' sign on the lawn, imagine the impression your home will make on potential buyers. They will be viewing many homes before making a decision

By: Alice Lucettel Home & Family > Baby Boomerl July 06, 2012 lViews: 201

Exotic and tropical destinations don't always top the list of get-away ideas; in fact the buzz around town this season is about local attractions, weekend and day trips. Does this sound familiar?

By: Alice Lucettel Home & Family > Baby Boomerl July 06, 2012 lViews: 234

A lot of older workers want to retire, but realize they really do not have the income or savings to leave work behind right now. A partial retirement may provide a good solution for some of these

By: Marilyn Katzl Home & Family > Baby Boomerl July 01, 2012 lViews: 167

As we go through each day, we find that we have become increasingly reliant on social media, smart devices and a host of other technical marvels for our interaction and communication. Every aspect of

By: Howard G Sadlerl Home & Family > Baby Boomerl June 27, 2012 lViews: 180

Senior travel allows retirees to have a fresh, brand new outlook on life. Gone are the days of waking up to commute to an office. No longer do they have to clock in to work and take orders from

By: Carrie T Robertsl Home & Family > Baby Boomerl June 25, 2012 lViews: 171

Retirement is a life changing event and it's not just the finances you have to consider. Are you ready emotionally and in practical terms for the next phase of your life? Planning for retirement

By: Pat J Pricel Home & Family > Baby Boomerl June 25, 2012 lViews: 181

Retirement is made so much more enjoyable with the advent of social media. There are some retirees who will dispute this thought primarily because they have misgivings about the use and benefits

By: Ron Mercierl Home & Family > Retirementl April 05, 2012 lViews: 154

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus