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Older People Not Using Smartphones or Digital Media

Older Internet consumers are very low users of smartphones and online media, states a new report from McKinsey. To analyze this more, we decided to compare the youngest and oldest groups surveyed: “Digital-media Junkies” (average age 28) and “Traditionalists” (average age 48).

McKinsey states that “Digital-media junkies” are three times more likely to be early adopters of new technologies. This segment makes up 19% of McKinsey’s survey, up 7% from 2008. The “Traditionalists” meanwhile make up 24% of the survey respondents, the same as in 2008. Traditionalists overwhelmingly do not own smartphones. They also have not yet adopted online media devices, such as tablets and e-readers.

In both cases, smartphones and online media, the Traditionalists are a huge and largely untapped market. It also makes you think about just how mainstream those technologies are. Not very mainstream, if this research is to be believed.

Probably the most interesting statistics are in the device ownership section. The Digital-media junkies own more devices than Traditionalists in every single product category. The highest ranking devices for the junkies are game consoles (85%), portable media players (84%) and smartphones (67%).

Just 12% of the Traditionalists own a smartphone. Many probably own so-called ‘feature phones’ – which are phones that don’t connect to the Web, or do so in a very limited way. This tells us that despite the huge growth in the mobile Web market over the past couple of years, there is still a long way to go before about a quarter of the U.S. Internet population can participate in this revolution.

Consuming media online seems almost anathema to the Traditionalists. As noted in the ‘media choices’ section, they are still large consumers of print newspapers. But for tablets (2%) and e-readers (3%), Traditionalists trail well behind the Digital-media junkies.

Looking further at the media choices section, we can see that the Digital-media junkies are huge gamers: 89% compared to just 23% for the Traditionalists. There are also wide gaps in online video consumption (84% vs. 18%) and social media (82% vs. 32%).

Unsurprisingly, the only media surveyed which Traditionalists use more is print newspapers. 59% of Traditionalists read print newspapers, compared to 46% of Digital-media junkies. The (already well known) implication is that the print newspaper audience is aging and there are less younger readers.

Another stark difference is that the Digital-media junkies are 62% male, while the Traditionalists are 61% female. That could be more of a social issue than a technology one. Perhaps, for example, schools and families should do more to encourage geek girls. Let us know your thoughts on that – and the other statistics in this report – in our comments.

Photo credit: Antonio Viva

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