AARP: 7 in 10 Seniors Own a Smartphone

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Although they were slower than younger Americans to latch on to mobile phones, nearly nine in 10 Americans (89%) who are 50 years old and older own mobile devices, according to AARP Research. More than seven in 10 (73%) own smartphones, researchers said.

In comparison, overall smartphone penetration rose to reach 79.1% in the U.S. as of year-end 2015, a total of nearly 200 million people, according to comScore.

Smartphone Ownership Among Seniors

Smartphone ownership among the 50+ set has increased 10 percentage points from July 2014 and 25 points since 2013, according to AARP Research’s latest ¨Attitude, Trend & Opinion Module¨ (ATOM) series of market research reports.

AARP researchers also found that computer ownership among those 50 and older is waning or leveling off while use of smartphones and tablets continues to rise. That’s contributing to a nationwide trend. Overall, just over three-quarters (76%) own computers, according to AARP Research’s latest market data.

Email, visiting websites, reading news reports, and getting directions are the most common activities older American smartphone owners engage in. In addition, six in 10 have downloaded a mobile app. Those 70 and up are most likely to use their smartphones only to send and receive emails – 20% vs. just 2% of those 50-59.

Other key takeaways from AARP Research’s latest ATOM report include:

  • One in ten (11%) adults over 50 own a wearable device, with those age 50-70 the most likely to own this technology.
  • Adults age 50-plus who are mobile enabled do more activities on their computers and tablets than they do on their smartphones, but there are some tasks that are becoming mobile dominant: sending email/IMs (92% on mobile vs. 89% on computer) and downloading apps (63% on mobile vs. 61% on computer) are done as much or more on mobile devices as on traditional computers.
  • Over time, email has dropped slightly as a mode of communication, while texting and social media have gained in popularity. Among the 50-59 age group, text messaging has overtaken email as the tool most used to stay connected, and still leads the way among social media to remain in touch.

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