How Tech-Savvy Are Seniors?

We’ve all made at least a few jokes about seniors and technology. We ask children to help grandpa find Netflix on the TV. And we laugh when grandma signs her texts “Love, Nana” like we don’t know they’re from her.

These endearing examples give the impression that older adults aren’t technology savvy. And because adults 65 and older make up a large segment of healthcare’s target market, you feel the need to rely heavily on other mediums. But baby boomers and above are using technology—at the highest rates we’ve ever seen. Here, we take a closer look at the statistics of tech use among seniors.

Senior man reading online news on smartphone outdoors.

42% of seniors own smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center.

Yes, that’s a low number compared with younger demographics. But that’s an average for all seniors 65 and older. Smartphone use predictably declines with age. Close to 60 percent of those 65 to 69 have smartphones. Only 17 percent of people 80 and older do. And 80 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 own smartphones, according to AARP. We know they’re not seniors yet, but many of them will be soon.

What it means when marketing to seniors: Don’t leave older adults out of your target audience when putting together your mobile marketing plan. Invite them to download an app or post a photo—just as you would younger audiences. And ensure all of your webpages, apps, and tools geared toward seniors are mobile-friendly.

That said, don’t make the mistake of not providing other avenues to engage with you. Seniors still may prefer to call, write, or email you. Make sure they have options.

1 in 7 adults over 50 owns a home assistant, such as an Amazon Alexa or a Google Play, according to AARP.

A boy sits in a sofa with his grandfather and they are bonding with help of consumer electronics. In front of them on a table stand a digital assistant, which is an intelligent loudspeaker with built-in microphone. The digital assistant can help answer questions and enable the family to control internet of things such as lightbulbs and door locks with voice commands

Sure, they’re likely asking their adult children or grandkids to set it up for them. But older adults are interested in non-essential, assistive technology. When you consider NPR reports that one in five Americans overall have access to a smart speaker, one in seven isn’t too far off.

What it means when marketing to seniors: As home assistants become ubiquitous, semantic search optimization is becoming more and more important. People are no longer searching in fragmented phrases and keywords. It’s just plain awkward to say, “Alexa, search joint replacement classes Scottsdale, AZ.” It’s much more likely someone would ask, “Alexa, where can I find a joint replacement class near me?” Make sure your content reflects this.

82% of adults ages 65 to 69 use the internet, according to Pew.

When accounting for all seniors 65 and up, the number drops to two-thirds. But those who do use the internet are prolific. About three-quarters of them report going online every day and many more than once a day.

About half of all seniors have home access to broadband services. The number jumps to 87 percent for seniors who have a household income of $75,000 or more.

What it means when marketing to seniors: While not all seniors are online, the ones that are have time to spend with your content. Be sure you’re offering new content frequently, and don’t shy away from video. The half of seniors who subscribe to broadband have the time to hit play.