We often hear that only young people are spending time online, but data shows that more and more people over 50 are also spending time online. The Pew Internet & American Life Project provides a picture of how people aged 50 and older are using new media and how they use it to find health information:
- 45% of 70-75 year olds are online – and over the past three years they’ve had the biggest increase of any age group, and
- 54% of 50-64 year olds look for specific medical treatment information online .
From ChangeWave.com , we know that:
- “Baby Boomers” – people age 45-63 – now spend more time in non-work related activities online (12.9 hr/wk) than they do watching TV (11.8 hr/wk) ,
- 57% of Boomers have LinkedIn profiles – but, more surprisingly, 55% have Facebook profiles , and
- The latest Facebook statistics reveal that there was a 513% growth in users age 55+ over the past six months alone. And, during that same six months, the percentage of total Facebook users age 24 and under declined from 54.3% to 34.9% .
As we approach National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) on Friday, September 18 we asked Michelle Scavnicky, Director of Education for The AIDS Institute (TAI) – the lead organization for NHAAAD – about their use of new media to support the day’s key messages.
Michele said, “New media has an emerging role in helping us to promote awareness for the day and to emphasize the need for education, prevention, and testing among older adults.” She mentioned that “This year, TAI tried to understand our target audiences’ interests and online behaviors. As a result, we’ve begun to incorporate new media tools in promotional efforts for NHAAAD activities.”
TAI started tweeting and encouraging others to use the Twitter hashtag #NHAAAD09 in tweets about the day. Michelle said, “We’d like to develop a Facebook page and use other social networking sites to promote NHAAAD, as well as cross-promote the other HIV/AIDS Awareness Days.”
Ways to get involved in National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day:
- Use the Twitter hashtag #NHAAAD09 and retweet NHAAAD messages.
- Download the NHAAAD resources and share them with your neighbors, colleagues, and friends.
- Promote HIV testing among older Americans.
- Provide HIV prevention and education messages and resources that link to care for older Americans living with HIV.
- Conduct local community awareness and education events in settings where older American live or meet (e.g., nursing homes, assisted living facilities, community centers, and faith communities).
As Michelle said, “Online and off, please help us make the theme of NHAAAD – “HIV over 50: Get Educated, Get Tested!” – a reality for all residents over 50.”
How do you see older people using new media? We asked our new media consultant, David Galiel, and he told us, “If we look at the trends over time in all new media usage, it is safe to conclude that the younger population tends to be on the leading edge, adopting new technologies faster, but the older population does follow behind.” He continued by saying, “If we want to look at where to reach older audiences, often the best place to start is the next-to-last generation of new media tools that young people have embraced.” As always, it is important to look at your specific target audience and where they spend time online — be it patient support sites, Facebook, or somewhere else.
What have you done to reach this population? Please share your thoughts with us.