More elderly active on social media

© Hollandse Hoogte / David Rozing
Social media usage among the elderly has soared in recent years. The group 65 to 74-year-olds in particular have become increasingly active users. In 2019, 76 percent of the respondents in this age category said they had used social media, up from 40 percent five years previously. An increase in social media use was also seen among people aged 75 and over. Exchanging text messages, via WhatsApp for example, is most popular among the elderly. This is according to recent figures taken from the survey on ICT usage by households and individuals in 2019, conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

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In 2019, 87 percent of the Dutch population aged 12 years and over indicated they had used social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, discussion forums or weblogs in the previous three months. This was still 74 percent five years previously.

Virtually everyone in the age group 12 to 54 years use social media (95 percent or more). The shares were 89 percent among 55 to 64-year-olds and 76 percent among 65 to 74-year-olds last year. In 2014, these shares amounted to 64 and 40 percent respectively.

An increase in social media use is also seen among Dutch seniors over the age of 75: in 2014, 13 percent were active while five years this had risen to 40 percent.

Socialemediagebruik (%)
Kenmerken personen12 tot 25 jaar25 tot 35 jaar35 tot 45 jaar45 tot 55 jaar55 tot 65 jaar65 tot 75 jaar75 jaar of ouder
201496.794.088.379.364.339.813.0
201594.894.690.384.070.048.818.1
201695.493.793.188.878.954.722.0
201798.197.595.891.083.663.934.7
201895.497.194.393.183.967.640.3
201996.896.395.894.888.976.039.8

Mainly texting

Exchanging text messages, via WhatsApp for example, is the most common type of social media: 84 percent of Dutch people aged 12 years and over engaged in this last year. The strongest growth was seen in the age group 65 to 74 years, with a share of 70 percent sending text messages. This was still 25 percent five years previously.

Among the over-75s, the share rose from 7 percent in 2014 to 34 percent in 2019.

Also more use of social networks among seniors

In 2019, 63 percent of the Dutch population aged 12 years and over were active on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, while 32 percent were using professional networks such as LinkedIn.

More frequent use of social networks as well is seen among the elderly. Last year, 39 percent of the 65 to 74-year-olds and 17 percent of the over-75s were active on social networks. Five years previously, this was still 23 and 6 percent respectively.

Tekstberichten uitwisselen, bijvoorbeeld via WhatsApp (%)
Soc med20192014
Totaal 84.262.8
12 tot 25 jaar95.093.0
25 tot 35 jaar95.087.4
35 tot 45 jaar94.175.8
45 tot 55 jaar92.064.9
55 tot 65 jaar84.046.5
65 tot 75 jaar70.025.2
75 jaar of ouder34.46.5

Increase in internet calls

Of the Dutch population aged 12 years or older, 58 percent said they had made phone calls via the internet using services such as Skype or WhatsApp in the three months prior to the survey. This is more than in 2014, when 31 percent made internet phone calls. Of the 12 to 24-year-olds, nearly 80 percent made phone calls via the internet.

At 18 percent (6 percent in 2014), relatively few people over the age 75 were using the internet to make phone calls. Of the 65 to 74-year-olds, as much as 41 percent (19 percent in 2014) indicated they were calling via the internet.

Mobile phone or smartphone most frequently used device

In 2019, 92 percent of Dutch people aged 12 years and over said they used a smartphone to go online. This was still 74 percent in 2014. With 83 percent, laptops followed the smartphone as the most popular device for internet use. In 2014, laptops were still the most frequently used device (76 percent). With 71 percent, tablets were also frequently used to go online. This was still 57 percent in 2014.

The use of desktop computers to go online saw a decline: in 2014, 61 percent of Dutch people were using a desktop, while in 2019 this share had fallen to 54 percent. Only the age group 65 years and over still showed an increase.