What are seniors searching for online? The short answer is that older Americans are searching for the same things as everyone else -- with small variations. Why is that? It’s simple. The Internet is an everyday part of our lives. It’s probably our main source for gathering information, entertainment, and communication. We spend an average of 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day. That’s about 100 days a year, and half of that is spent on tablets or mobile phones.
Each day, Google alone processes more than three billion searches. That’s about forty thousand each second. What are people looking for? With the vast amount of information available on the internet, you may think people are searching for “big” answers. Oddly enough, people seem to be looking for very simple things. Stores, basic skills, products, places. The number one globally searched item in 2020 was the term “YouTube.”
“Senior-friendly websites,” “online socializing for seniors,” and “online communities for seniors” are some of the key phrases. What do you think seniors are searching for? You might think kids search for computer games. Perhaps men are searching for fishing gear and sports. Within each wide demographic are many unique individuals. We are all looking for something specific to our needs.
“Retirement gifts for women. Gifts for new grandparents. Retirement benefits. Assisted living. According to Google, these are just some of the terms seniors are searching for. Seniors are searching for information about retired lifestyles.” Advisor Perspectives
It’s hard to know what all seniors are looking for on Google. However, we do know that there are four reasons people search for things online.
First, a lot of searches are made by people looking for information. Then, there are searches made by people who are looking to visit a specific website, like this one. Third, are the searches with the intent to buy something, or perhaps to book a trip. Finally, the fourth type of search someone will make is for research -- probably made prior to buying something or booking a trip.
So, seniors are probably looking for information, something to buy, a website to visit, or they’re doing some research. Perhaps they are looking for a recipe for dinner? We can’t eat lasagne every night, right?
“Everyone who does an online search is hoping to find something. Is someone searching because they have a question and want an answer to that question? Are they looking to visit a specific website? Or, are they searching because they want to buy something?” Yoast
The only way to know exactly what people are looking for is to ask them. There are almost one billion people currently over the age of sixty, so that’s a pretty tall order. However, if we look at how seniors spend their time on the internet, we will have a better idea of what it is they’re looking for.
“Pew Research Center found 87% of adults ages 50 to 64 are online, while 66% of those 65+ reported using the internet. If you dig deeper, you see that it’s really the 80+ segment of that upper age band that’s bringing down the average – 82% of those aged 65-69 and 75% of 70-74-year-olds are online.” Creating Results
Seniors aren’t dummies sitting in front of sitcoms. When they were younger, they all had jobs. Most raised families and all have decades of interesting life experience as well. The screen isn’t always just a one-way source of entertainment. It is also a source of community, learning, and participation.
“Seniors go online for a vast array of reasons, from staying in touch with friends and family (91%) to organizing their finances (87%) to improving their health and wellness (73%).” Think With Google
Just like us, seniors turn to the internet to shop. According to AARP, one-third of all online purchases are made by people over 50. Seniors also spend nearly $7 billion online each year. That’s a lot of buying power.
What do seniors buy? Much the same as the rest of us. Seniors look to purchase holidays, health and beauty items, and entertainment. They also buy gifts for family and friends, and even luxury goods for themselves. Prior to shopping, they also spend time researching products and services.
“Over half (54 %) of the 65+ year-olds were online shoppers in 2019, while in the prior decade there were only two-and-a-half times fewer (20 %) senior buyers according to a recent study by the British Office for National Statistics.” Commerce Tools
The older generation forms the largest group of so-called "non-liners" in relation to younger age groups. Nevertheless, senior citizens also use social media. Social networks are gaining more and more members among seniors. Video platforms, Wikipedia, and private communities top the list. Professional networks, weblogs, and Twitter, on the other hand, are rarely or not at all used.
Social media connects seniors not only with family and friends but also offers a connection with past schoolmates. It offers a platform where people can assist others, as well as a sounding board for sadder life issues such as divorce and the passing away of friends.
Numerous examples show that there are many active senior bloggers. There are also many initiatives by seniors who use social media to present and publicize their involvement. For instance, how about a group of senior citizen activists advocating for greater access to supportive home care? This sounds like a good social media group.
Seniors are involved or interested in a variety of societal causes and government-related issues surrounding senior advocacy. The internet gives seniors a platform to support issues not only close to home but also abroad. The political energy of youth may diminish in old age, but seniors can continue to be politically active. It’s easy to click a mouse when sitting in your residence.
“Thirty percent of seniors posted images to support their political cause on social media. About twenty-five percent used social media to find information about rallies in their area or encouraged others to participate.” Pew Research
Once seniors retire, they have a lot more time to spend at home. Older Americans have a world of information at their fingertips from travel destinations to creative pursuits to recommendations for their health.
Seniors can also finish or continue school online. In most US states this is free. MOOCs are available from Harvard, Princeton, and even Yale. Retirement years can be the years spent earning a long-desired university degree.
Access to the internet and the use of digital devices by seniors keep them involved in the community. Without these skills, they may become disengaged and distanced from family and friends.
Active participation in society — online and off — is possible for pretty much everyone. Having access to a computer and to the internet is a prerequisite for this. It’s not a question of keeping up with the younger generation — it’s a question of participating in our digital world.
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