Social media on the rise among seniors

© Hollandse Hoogte
Older adults are increasingly active on social media. Its use has taken off especially among 65 to 74-year-olds in recent years. In 2017, 64 percent of the respondents in this age category said they had used social media in the three months prior to the survey, versus 24 percent five years previously. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on a new analysis of recent figures on online activities by Dutch people.

An increase in social media use was also seen among seniors aged 75 and over, particularly in 2017. Last year, 35 percent indicated they had been active on social media, compared to 22 percent in 2016 and as few as 5 percent in 2012. When looking at the youngest age groups, social media are used by virtually everyone. Altogether, 85 percent of the total Dutch population aged 12 years or older are active on social media.

Social media use
 12 to 17 yrs (%)18 to 24 yrs (%)25 to 34 yrs (%)35 to 44 yrs (%)45 to 54 yrs (%)55 to 64 yrs (%)65 to 74 yrs (%)75 yrs or older (%)

Also more active on social networks

At present, 34 percent of 65 to 74-year-olds use social networks, such as Facebook, as against 12 percent five years ago. In the oldest age group (75 years and over), the share of active social network users went up from 2 percent in 2012 to 17.3 percent in 2017. On average, 63 percent of the Dutch population aged 12 years or older had been active on social networks during the three months prior to the survey.

Use of social networks
 2017 (%)2012 (%)
12 to 17 yrs96.491.7
18 to 24 yrs92.388.8
25 to 34 yrs83.276.6
35 to 44 yrs72.455.7
45 to 54 yrs65.436.3
55 to 64 yrs52.126
65 to 74 yrs34.111.9
75 yrs or older17.32.1

Seniors also more frequently online while travelling

More and more older adults are using the Internet on the go: in 2017, 61 percent of 65 to 74-year-olds and 33 percent of over-75s were online while travelling. Five years previously, these shares amounted to 16 and 4 percent respectively. Slightly more than half of 65 to 74-year-olds used their mobile phone or smartphone for this purpose. A share of just over 20 percent was seen among people aged 75 or older. Tablets - after mobile phones or smartphones - are most popular for internet use: 32 percent among 65 to 74-year-olds and 19 percent among over-75s. In total, over 82 percent of all Dutch people aged 12 years and over are using mobile internet.

Mobile internet by device, 2017
 Total mobile internet (%)Mobile phone or smartphone (%)Laptop (%)Tablet (%)
Total persons82.479.238.735.8
65 to 74 yrs60.552.822.831.9
75 yrs or older33.221.811.418.8

Online newspaper popular among over-65s

Of the people in the age category 65 to 74 years, 75 percent say they use the Internet to search for information about goods and services. Another 60 percent indicate they search for information about health and 58 percent are online to read the newspaper. The same preference is seen among adults aged 75 or older, but the percentage shares are slightly lower in this age group: 46 percent (information about goods and services), 37 percent (information about health) and 34 percent (newspapers).