Younger Baby Boomers as Digital Users

Just How Far Do They Go?

Most younger baby boomers are internet users. Many have smartphones and use social networks. But behind the basic penetration numbers lurk some low levels of digital activity—which means marketers who wish to reach this audience must understand its spotty patterns of usage.

  • A large majority of younger boomers will be internet users this year—84.7% of 55- to 64-year-olds, by our estimate. But they are far less likely than millennials and Gen Xers to use the internet “almost constantly.”
  • Though about three-quarters of 55-to-64s will be smartphone users this year, that is significantly lower than penetration in younger age brackets. As important, younger boomers who have a smartphone are less likely to regard it as their device of choice for going online. Their usage is comparatively narrow—less video viewing, less usage of voice assistants, less usage of health-related apps, and so on.
  • Wearables have made scant inroads among younger boomers, despite the category’s potential for helping deal with an aging population’s health issues. Fewer than one in 10 of the 55-to-64s are users. They also lag in adopting smart speakers.
  • Traditional TV still feeds much of younger boomers’ appetite for entertainment, undercutting usage of digital video—though more than half do use the latter.
  • Many younger boomers are digital buyers—about two-thirds this year. But they are less inclined than millennials and Xers to buy via smartphone. Online reviews and other online information influence their shopping choices. But many younger boomers look askance at digital advertising.

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Table of Contents

  1. A Digital Population—Up to a Point
  2. Not a Mobile-First Population Group
  3. The Limits of Younger Boomers’ Social Usage
  4. Viewing Digital Video—and Pre-Digital Video
  1. The Role of Digital in Younger Boomers’ Shopping
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Lori Bitter
The Business of Aging
Interviewed May 4, 2018
Sami Hassanyeh
Chief Digital Officer
Interviewed May 3, 2018
Laurie Orlov
Aging in Place Technology Watch
Interviewed May 4, 2018
Lisa D’Ambrosio
MIT AgeLab
Research Associate
Interviewed May 4, 2018


Mark Dolliver


Chris Bendtsen
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Tricia Carr
Managing Editor, Interviews
Jaimie Chung
Associate Product Manager
Cindy Liu
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Oscar Orozco
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Jennifer Pearson
VP, Research
Monica Peart
Senior Director, Forecasting
Shelleen Shum
Director, Forecasting

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