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The Aging Internet: Users Older, More Social

As the Internet ages, its audience grows more diverse.
Internet Users Growing Older

The misconception that the Internet is mainly used by youngsters has been floating around for quite some time now. In fact, the vast majority of Americans who use a computer also use the Internet, and only two percent of computer users do not go online in the United States. In 2009, the average age of the Internet user is almost 37 years.

The amount of time Internet users are spending online has risen to 14 hours per week. These users are not just accessing information, online tools and games, but also contributing to online content and joining in social networking. Almost 44 percent of users share their thoughts and files in the online world. Almost 22 percent have uploaded some photographs online, and seven percent have webcams that allow others to view live pictures of their life. More than 11 percent of Internet users maintain blogs, and almost 40 percent of the people read others blogs. In a March 2009 report  by Nielsen, social networking and blogging surpassed email among popular Internet activities.

Many Web analysts are finding that the growing demographic of Internet users over 35 are gravitating to social networking and e-purchasing services. Although youth-oriented sites such as Xanga and Friendster remain popular among the younger generations, comScore.com has shown a major increase in the number of adults to popular social networking sites, such as MySpace, which supports more than 300 million accounts with 110 million monthly active users. Almost 40 percent of the users of social networking sites belong to the 35 and over age group.

Top 25 Social Networking Sites in January 2009

Image source:Compete 

Quick Facts on Social Networking

Facebook:  Over 150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using it every day. This includes people in every continent, even Antarctica. If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria. Facebook is used in more than 35 different languages and 170 countries and territories (Mark Zuckerberg, Jan 7, 2009). Facebook reports 45 percent of its U.S. audience is now 26 or older, the fastest growing demographic (Inside Facebook, Feb 15, 2009).

Hi5:  Hi5 has introduced a gaming component and reports 60 million users. (VentureBeat, Feb 5, 2009)

MySpace:  MySpace has 76 million members in the U.S., with a U.S. growth rate of 0.8 percent per month (Comscore via Techncrunch, Jan 13, 2009). A MySpace user averages almost four and a half hours on the site every month, a five percent increase over last month and a 31 percent increase year over year. Users spend nearly 100 minutes more per visitor than the closest competitor, according to MySpace (Social Media Bible, Feb, 2009).

Twitter:  According to Compete, the growth rate for Twitter was 752 percent, for a total of 4.43 million unique visitors in December 2008. In the start of 2008, Twitter had only around 500,000 unique monthly visitors (Mashable, Jan 9, 2009).

Xing:  Xing has 6.5 million users, many of whom have paid accounts.

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