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Online use among older people continues to soar

Friday, 21 October 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Older consumers are increasingly using online tools, according to a new report, suggesting that businesses need to steer clear of overlooking the more mature demographic.

 

The Australian Communications and Media Authority studied the online media activities of Australian consumers, interviewing 1,250 people and small focus groups.

 

Australians have embraced social networking sites, with 49% of respondents saying they had used such sites in the previous month, while 22% had watched video content through a social media site.

 

The news comes on the back of the 2011 Sensis e-Business Report, which highlights the strong usage of social media among people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

 

“Age continues to influence social networking usage. However, we have seen growth in the share of total use in the 30-plus age group,” report author Christena Singh said.

 

“A range of digital activities have hit mainstream levels in Australia, with strong usage now seen beyond the youth market.”

 

Of the ACMA survey respondents, a third said they had watched video content downloaded from the internet, while 30% had played online games.

 

According to the report, 68% of respondents aged 18-29 viewed online video content, compared to 50% of those aged 30-44, 34% of those aged 45-54 and 22% aged 55 and over.

 

Of the survey respondents who watched video content through a social media site, 45% were aged 18-29, compared to 25% of those aged 30-34 and 20% of those aged 45-54.

 

Of the respondents who watched video content from sites such as YouTube, 53% were aged 18-29, while 36% were aged 30-44 and 23% were aged 45-54.

 

And while young people are also more likely to play online games (41%), the figures were surprisingly high for both the 30-44 age bracket (31%) and the 45-54 age bracket (25%).

 

While consumers are increasingly keen to undertake online activities, the report shows they are also concerned about the lack of regulation namely “the limited capacity to regulate content”.

 

“With the exception of illegal content, [respondents] expected that much of the content available online would not be regulated,” the report says.

 

However, privacy was identified as an even bigger issue than unregulated content.

 

“Privacy risks, in particular, loom larger for participants as top of mind concerns when using digital media than do issues around content,” ACMA says in its report.

 

“[Respondents] generally accepted that they had little control over what subsequently happened to content they posted online – on social networks, for example.”

 

“But [they] were generally aware that they needed to manage their privacy settings as well as the content they posted.”