Despite worries that the younger generation is becoming increasingly attached to their screens, new research indicates it’s their parents and grandparents we should be concerned about.
A Pew Research study has found that young people’s use of digital media devices has held steady over the past decade.
However, the amount of daily screen time for people 60 and older has jumped over the same period. On average, they now spend an additional half-hour of every day watching media according to the study, which included an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Older Americans’ overall daily screen time has ballooned to four hours and 16 minutes — more than half a day’s leisure time — most of it spent watching television and online videos.
With the emergence of streaming services, the trend corresponds with the rise of diverse, high-quality programming. It’s a golden age for the small and tiny screens, and boomers are buying in faster than anyone.
Along with screen time, Pew reports a rise in tech ownership among older Americans. Back in 2000, only 14% of people age 65 and older used the Internet, compared with 73% today. And when it comes to smartphones — the killer technology of the 21st century — 53% of people 65 and older are smartphone owners.
Of course, there are only 24 hours in a day and time cannot go to an activity without leaving another activity.
So what aren’t boomers doing so much anymore? Mostly, reading.
It’s as if the shift from books and newspapers to digital media that younger generations made 10 or 20 years ago is now trickling through the 60-plus crowd.
And it’s not just books that are being squeezed out. While reading is down an average 13 minutes a day, socializing is down nine minutes, according to the Pew study.
In addition to age, the data seems to cross education levels and other demographics, too.
So never mind millennials: Perhaps a tech intervention is in order for people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s?