Senior Citizens Not Flocking to Social Network
Websites: Just 7% Have Posted Profiles
Most adults use online social networks primarily to
connect with friends
Jan. 22, 2009 Just 7 out of every 100 senior
citizens Americans age 65 or older have a profile on an online
social network - well below the 35 percent of all adult internet users.
The percentage of social networking adults was only 8% in 2005,
according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's December 2008
While media coverage and policy attention focus
heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites,
adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites. Adults
make up a larger portion of the US population than teens, which is why
the 35% number represents a larger number of users than the 65% of
online teens who also use online social networks.
Still, younger online adults are much more likely
than their older counterparts to use social networks, with 75% of adults
18-24 using these networks, compared to just 7% of adults 65 and older.
At its core, use of online social networks is still a phenomenon of the
Overall, personal use of social networks seems to
be more prevalent than professional use of networks, both in the
orientation of the networks that adults choose to use as well as the
reasons they give for using the applications. Most adults, like teens,
are using online social networks to connect with people they already
When users do use social networks for professional
and personal reasons, they will often maintain multiple profiles,
generally on different sites.
Most, but not all adult social network users are
privacy conscious; 60% of adult social network users restrict access to
their profiles so that only their friends can see it, and 58% of adult
social network users restrict access to certain content within their
For respondents who have multiple profiles, we
asked them to name the site with the profile they visit most frequently.
Half of social network users have profiles on
Among adults, MySpace is the most popular online
social network.6 Half (50%) of adult social network users age 18 and
older are on MySpace, while 22% of adult social network users have an
account on Facebook. Another 6% have an account on LinkedIn, 2% have an
account on Yahoo, and 1% each have accounts on YouTube and
Classmates.com. Another aggregate 10% of adult online social network
users have profiles on other sites, including BlackPlanet, Orkut, Hi5
There is some variation in the types of people who
tend to use each of the top three social networks. Typically, MySpace
users are more likely to be women, Hispanic or black, to have a high
school education or some experience with college. The median age of a
MySpace user is 27 years old.
Facebook users are more likely to be men and to
have a college degree. The median age of a Facebook user is 26 years
LinkedIn users are more likely to be men, to be
white and to have a college degree. The median age of a LinkedIn user is
40 years old.
Personal use of social networks is more
prevalent than professional use.
Overall, adults tend to use social networks for
personal reasons more than professional ones. This is true of both the
networks that adults choose to use, as well as the reasons they give for
using these applications. As noted above, 6% use LinkedIn, an online
social network dedicated to professional networking, while 72% use other
social networks (MySpace and Facebook) that are used for both
professional and personal networking purposes.
In addition, most adults use online social networks
primarily to connect with friends. Nearly nine in ten social network
users (89%) say they use the networks to stay in touch with friends, and
57% say they use it to make plans with friends. As with teens, the bulk
of these friend connections are with people they already know; under
half (49%) use the sites to make new friends. Professional uses are less
prevalent; less than a third of social network users are using them for
professional purposes, regardless of which site they use.