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Chapter 5. The Web User, Part 2: Older A... > Older Adults and the World Wide Web

Older Adults and the World Wide Web

The potential of the Web to benefit the lives of older adults is tremendous. Social ties with family and friends can be facilitated; purchases can be made for everything from prescription medications to books to groceries; health-related information can be easily obtained. Moreover, older adults as consumers either have purchasing power or, if they are on fixed incomes, can do comparison-shopping. Therefore, it is in the interest of companies and service providers involved in e-commerce to ensure that their sites are easy to use for this segment of the population.

Do older adults currently use the Web? Yes, although, of course, not all older adults are Web savvy. However, the number of older adults online is increasing. SeniorNet conducts usage surveys to track such numbers for individuals over the age of 50. In their 1995 research, 29 percent of the older adults surveyed used computers, and 17 percent of those older adults with computers at home reported regular use of the Internet (SeniorNet, 1998). By 1998, this latter number had increased such that nearly 70 percent of older adults with computers at home reported accessing the Internet. Moreover, a recent report by the U.S. Department of Commerce (2000) indicated that the age group “over 50” is the fastest growing population segment in terms of Internet use, with a 53 percent growth in use rate from 1998 to 2000.


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