Beltway Confidential

Social media use triples among older Americans

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Forty-three percent of older Americans — those ages 65 and over — now use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, the Pew Research Center has found.

This percentage has tripled in just the past four years, when just 13 percent of older Americans used social networking sites. It is also a huge improvement from the summer of 2006, when just 1 percent of older Americans used such sites.

Social networking usage has increased among all age groups since Pew started tracking it in 2005. Those aged 18-29 still dominate social networking sites, with 89 percent using social media, up 5 percent from last year.

Pingdom, a website analysis company, broke down the percentage of social networking users by age in this great graphic:

Even though older Americans are beginning to use social media sites more, they are still not a formidable audience. But due to the lack of social media engagement from politicians and the GOP's lack of connection with the youth, social media is something that needs to be a bigger part of the political realm.

The Pew report also found little difference in usage between genders (70 percent male, 74 percent female), but an infographic from Information is Beautiful breaks down what social networking sites are used most by each gender:

Pew found little difference in usage between education levels, annual household income or whether users lived in urban, suburban or rural areas. There is a noticeable difference in ethnicity and social media usage. Eighty percent of Hispanics use social media, compared to 75 percent of African-Americans and 70 percent of white non-Hispanics.

The future is on the side of social media. Politicians looking to connect with their constituents and spread their message need to be engaged on all platforms.

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