Older Canadians Using Internet More Than Ever, Study Finds

Statistics Canada wants you to know that Internet use among older Canadians is on the rise.

In a recent study, the organization reports that Canadians aged 65 and over used the Internet in 2010 much more than they did in 2000. In total, 29% of Canadians over 75 and 60% of those aged 65 to 74 used the Internet at least once in the previous month.

When it comes to online consumption, Statistics Canada notes that between 2000 and 2010, “youth became less of a vanguard as older age groups were catching on.” Still, the study draws attention to what the organization calls a “digital generation gap in the consumption of culture on the Internet.”

This gap is most noticeable in the field of music and video downloads. While 87% of Canadians aged 15 to 24 listen to downloaded music on a regular basis, only 10% of Canadians aged 65 to 74 listen to music from the Internet at least once a week.

Overall, older Canadians seem much less willing to embrace digital music formats. More than 80% of Canadians 65 or over listened to only records and CDs in 2010, compared to only 6% who did so from ages 15 to 24.

Younger Canadians are also more likely to watch videos online. 10% of Canadians aged 65 and over do it on a regular basis, while 80% of Canadians aged 18 to 24 stream movies and television using the Internet.

Not all older consumers are as wary about digital media. The Pew Internet Project suggested last year that while online seniors use the Internet mostly for email, they’re branching out in significant numbers. According to the project, there was a 34% increase between 2005 and 2012 in the number of online seniors aged 65 and over who use social networking tools.

The statistics prove that over the past decade, there’s been a noticeable shift in the way older consumers use the Internet. The online world is no longer the domain of the young, and Internet-savvy seniors are engaging with digital media in new and sometimes surprising ways.

Statistics Canada points out that since people aged 65 to 74 are more likely than younger Canadians to read as a hobby, e-reading could become a niche market for older consumers. The baby boomer generation, according to the study, “represent an important market for new products and platforms.” Whether or not evolving media can address the gap between older and younger generations remains to be seen.