An increasing number of Americans are getting their news from mobile devices, and older adults have contributed substantially to this increase. A recent survey asked respondents how often they get their news from a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Overall, 85 percent of adults get news on a mobile device, up from 72 percent in 2016. A breakdown by age showed that most (94 percent) adults age 18 to 49 use a mobile device for news, which is up only slightly from the previous year. The largest increase, however, was observed for older adults: 67 percent of adults 65 and better (compared to 43 percent in 2016), and 79 percent of adults 50 to 64 (compared to 63 percent in 2016) use a mobile device for news. This is a drastic increase over only a year, which shows how rapidly older adults are adopting new technology.
Although more older adults are using mobile devices for news, many still tend to prefer using a desktop or laptop computer. Only 44 percent of adults 65 and better prefer using a mobile device for news, compared to 77 percent of adults age 18 to 29. While many more younger adults prefer using a mobile device, a significant proportion of older adults prefer this method, and this number will likely increase, considering the jump in use by older adults.
There are plenty of other sources for news, but older adults appear to be taking advantage of the convenience of mobile devices. Not only do they use these devices more than in previous years, but they are beginning to prefer to use them as well. This may influence some older adults, who use mobile devices primarily for news, to explore other features as well. Some may take advantage of the almost endless amount of health-related applications, for example, or be drawn to the coming wave of augmented reality applications. In any case, older adults are clearly becoming more frequent users of mobile device technology.
Lu K. Growth in mobile news use driven by older adults. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/12/growth-in-mobile-news-use-driven-by-older-adults/. (June, 2017). Accessed September 13, 2017.