Technology adoption rates for older generations have been growing rapidly in recent years, according to a survey by Pew Research Center. Millennials still hold the top spot when it comes to embracing digital life but since 2012, Gen X and baby boomers have become heavy adopters.
Over 93 percent of millennials own smartphones with Gen X not too far behind at 90 percent, baby boomers at 68 percent (compared to 25 percent in 2011) and the silent generation at 40 percent. Pew Research Center cites a lack of confidence and physical challenges as major reasons why older Americans are still slow to use new technology and engage deeply with online content.
The amount of millennials who say they use social media has remained unchanged since 2012 (86 percent) while the shares of Gen X, baby boomers and silents have increased by 10 percentage points.
The findings show that Facebook use among millennials and Gen X are similar, 84 percent and 74 percent, respectively. Baby boomers and silents have increased their Facebook use by double digits since 2015, with silents growing from 22 percent to 37 percent in the past four years.
Across all generations, more than half of respondents said they use the internet—nearly 100 percent of millennials, 91 percent of Gen X, 85 percent of baby boomers and 62 percent of silents. Respondents who use the internet solely on their smartphones include 19 percent of millennials, 17 percent of Gen X, 15 percent of silents and 11 percent of baby boomers.
A majority of millennials, Gen X and baby boomers surveyed said they subscribe to broadband service at home compared to fewer than half of silents (45 percent) who said they do.
Tablet ownership is comparable across most generations, with 55 percent of Gen X, 53 percent of millennials and 52 percent of boomers. Only 33 percent of silents own tablets.
Attitudinal changes about the internet’s impact on society were also revealed.
Sixty-nine percent of Gen X believe the internet has been mostly a positive thing for society compared to 80 percent in 2014. This view of younger adults has remained more consistent with those ages 18-29 saying the internet has been mostly good for society compared to 79 percent who said so in 2014.
The survey is based on telephone interviews conducted from January 8-February 7, 2019 among a sample of 1,502 US adults, ages 18 or over.