Senior moments online in Illawarra

Joanne McIntosh at Warrawong library on an iPad. She has been taking short courses at the library on how to use tablets and social media sites. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Joanne McIntosh at Warrawong library on an iPad. She has been taking short courses at the library on how to use tablets and social media sites. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Social media is no longer the sole domain of young whippersnappers, as the snowball effect of online networking attracts older Australians in droves.

The Yellow Social Media Report, commissioned by the Yellow Pages, shows just how far social media has come from days as a fringe service populated mostly by young people.

Up to 46 per cent of Australians use social media every day, with Facebook by far the most popular service with 95 per cent of social media users owning an account. LinkedIn is a surprise second placing (24 per cent).

Large businesses spend upwards of $30,000 on their social media, while only 2 per cent of us use it during work hours and 71 per cent get online with smartphones.

But it is our older generations who have taken to social media the most in recent times, with almost 60 per cent of internet users aged 50-64, and one third of internet users older than 65, now on social media.

"As you get older, it's more important to have access to friends and family," said Joanne McIntosh, of Primbee.

Ms McIntosh got a Facebook account three weeks ago, after attending a seniors' social media course run by Warrawong Library.

"It's a nice way to keep in touch, because people are so busy."

Neroli Blakeman, Wollongong central library manager, said the Tech Savvy Seniors program - held at libraries across the region - had more than 500 attendees and a waiting list of 200.

"Seniors want to know how safe it is to use, and then keep in touch with friends, family and people travelling overseas," Ms Blakeman said.

"They show off to their grandchildren afterwards, to show nanna is pretty good online," she laughed.

Those aged 50-64 have seen an average of 55 per cent of their online friends face-to-face in the past year. That may sound small, but compare the number to the 20-29 and 40-49 age groups, who have seen just one in three of their online friends in the last year.

Ms McIntosh used Facebook to find old friends and then go out to reconnect in real life, rather than spending hours online.

"I go for coffee now with people I haven't seen since high school," she said.

"So much is now based on computers, so I thought I may as well start learning about it now."

Due to demand, the Tech Savvy Seniors courses will be extended until August.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop