Australia: Senior Citizens on Facebook over 55's

Facebook has seen a surge of 513% of Senior Citizens and over 55’s joining in the USA.   Australia too has a massive increase in seniors in Facebook and social networks generally  in the last year or two.  I want to offer some links for the statistics I quoted for an article in The Age and…

Facebook has seen a surge of 513% of Senior Citizens and over 55’s joining in the USA.   Australia too has a massive increase in seniors in Facebook and social networks generally  in the last year or two.  I want to offer some links for the statistics I quoted for an article in The Age and another one in the Sydney Morning Herald on the phenomenon:

Computer users aged 55 and over are the fastest growing group to sign up to sites such as Facebook and MySpace, often using them to keep up to date with the lives of family and friends, especially grandchildren interstate and overseas – assuming they aren’t among the growing number of younger users abandoning the social networking sites.

Figures show that the number of older users of Facebook increased nearly tenfold in America last year, while university-age users declined by 55 per cent.

Australian figures show that about one in five over the age of 55 is connecting through Facebook, with 550,000 logging in. Facebook claims to have more than 7 million users.

Social network strategist Laurel Papworth said Australia’s take-up rate was generally about 2 to 3 per cent higher than the US for computer use.

(The SMH article has similar stuff but different people e.g. Council of Aging). Warning – collection of statistics and graphs and maths coming up!

Australian Seniors on Facebook February 2010

Australian Census info – 2 million 877 thousand Aussies are over 65, 383,000 over 85. A whopping 3,700 are over 100. Which has brightened my day – how about you? 😛

How many Australian over 55’s are on Facebook today, February 14th 2010?

seniors facebook over 55 Australia

532,800 seniors on Facebook out of a current 8 million Australians over 18. That’s what? 6 or 7%? Your maths is better than mine – I love statistics but can’t add up. Whatever. 😛

Someone who can use maths is Ash Nallawalla from Net Magellan:

Facebook demographics information
click for large size

His spreadsheet is built from data on Facebook ads, the same as mine.

CheckFacebook has also archived some Australian Facebook Demographic data, from November 2009:

I left the mouse on PINK – 55 to 64 year olds (307,940). Over 65 is 124,340.

The break down of over 55’s on Facebook in Australia: 240,000 seniors in July 2009, 432,280 in November 2009,  532,000 in Feb 2010. Not quite the same growth as the US but still substantial. Anyone other network would love to double it seniors growth every six months no?  I would love to see Jan 2009 compared to the July figure – there was a massive jump all round during that six month period, but alas I don’t currently have any data. Do you?

By the way, Facebook measures ACTIVE monthly users, not inactive members.

NOTE from Twitter:  Alex Avery pointed out that Hitwise have some generic social network  figures for seniors:


The 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54 age groups all represent a similar percentage of the Social Networking and Forums share of visits and each are over represented against the online population.

Only the 55 years and over age group are under represented in comparison to the online. However, when compared to the start of 2009 they have grown in line with the overall industry maintaining their share of visits.

You can read Alan Long’s blog at Hitwise site

American Seniors on Facebook 513% Growth

Inside Facebook has calculated that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women over 55.

This is what I have is from six months ago from iStrategy in the USA – the journalist contacted Peter Corbett but I don’t know the outcome of that discussion:

2009 Facebook Demographics and Statistics Report: 513% Growth in 55+ Year Old Users. College & High School Drop 20%

By Peter Corbett
Below is our fourth granular examination of Facebook’s demographics and statistics directly from their Social Ads platform.  There has been a staggering increase in the number of 55+ users – with total growth of 513.7% in in the last six month alone. The spreadsheet used to create the graphic below is here.

facebook_demographics_statistics_2009.Additional top insights:

  • 70.8% increase in total US users over the last six months (71,901,400 total)
  • 54.6% of users are female
  • 142.4% increase in the number of users from Atlanta – the fastest growing metro

The most troubling statistics we’ve seen are that there are 16.5% less high school users, and 21.7% less college users. There have been rumors that these younger user groups are being aliented by their parents joining the service, and this data seems to prove it.

I also looked at Mashable for general social network usage growth by over 55’s.

The more interesting data comes from the top 10 online destinations table. While Google Search was an obvious winner, Windows Media Player is a bit of a surprise until you realize just how many Web sites embed the thing. However, the rise of Facebook to number three on this list, when a year ago it was the number 45 most visited Web site by seniors, is a huge sign of just how mainstream social networking has become. YouTube at number four is another confirmation of this trend.

Australians creating content in social media spaces increasing

Australia is about 3% higher than the USA in creating content – The Australia ladder is below, the USA ladder is here showing 2010 data and that Australia still beats US in content creation.

Compare this to 2006

Forrester Ladder 2006

We started off passive and then learnt to create. This number of Australians creating content will eventually reach the same sort of penetration that email and mobile phones have today.

Stephen Noble of Forrester also had this to say in a PDF on my hard drive that I can’ t link to:

To persuade Boomers, create meaningful content. Older adults do not create as much content as the members of Gen X (29- to 42-year-olds) and Gen Y (18- to 28-year-olds), but they still consume social content (see Figure 4). In particular, 48% of Younger Boomers (43- to 52-yearolds) are Spectators, as are 46% of Older Boomers and Seniors (53 years of age and older). Telstra mobilized “mum and dad” investors with content about how industry regulation in Australia was affecting the value of their shares.14 As a result, more than 14,000 became Telstra Active Supporters, campaigning to put regulatory issues on the national agenda.

You have to buy the full report Australian Adult Social Technographics Revealed Jan 2009 from them. Nyeh Nyeh Nyeh NYEH….

Anyway, that’s my piece on Australian senior citizens getting more and more involved in Facebook, a comparison with US over 55’s and some general stats on how we as a nation are growing. There is a discrepancy – American seniors use internet more, yet Australians across the board create more content – but there is still a massive growth in the retired demographic getting social here in Australia.

Got any case studies or stories of grandpa or grandma on Facebook?

Similar Posts


  1. Hey @silkcharm,

    What a big post you have?! Kudos for using some of the links Isent through. I’m still not convinced. Some of the data is old. Much of it is biased (using Facebook ad data to report on Facebook demographics?). Most of it is American and bits of it – if you read them – contradict what you say.

    I propose that there is some increase in Australian oldies logging on, possibly even more than the percentage of their overall growth within the aging population. Question is: so what? What do you think it means? Why is it important?


    1. Facebook ads are live stats drawn from profiles of active users – you think I should trust a survey from Nielsen where they only survey their own database?
      The link you sent through today is the same one I referred to the journalist – weeks ago. Kudos on being able to Google based on my keywords e.g. 513% The Hitwise one from Alan I was aware of but it’s very general and not Facebook specific.
      I worked with what I had for an article that The Age and SMH ran. Not sure what you want to be convinced of, but feel free to do your own research. 🙂

  2. Hi Laurel, fascinating stuff & great post. My dad (early 70s) joined Facebook a year or so back but doesnt use it much … there’s only a few family members on & most of his peers aren’t using it .. but I would love to see a study that looked at why older people signed up – to keep in touch with kids? after school reunions?

    1. Hey Fran, most of the stuff I’ve seen – particularly academic papers – seem to say “friends and family at a distance” for older people and “real time connections e.g. where’s that party” for younger. My mum joined to connect with her book club. Livin’ it up on Facebook 🙂

  3. There’s something about the Internet that is so engaging, that sucks people into it in ways other technologies traditionally haven’t. I’ve seen my grandparents get excited by it, and I’ve seen my four year old niece go to Google type in “Dora” and go the Nick Junior website to play Flash games… My mother barely uses her computer for much more than playing Spider Solitaire and checking her email, but even she has got into the habit of listening to music videos via YouTube while she does those things. It’s got something for everybody. I don’t know if other services would offer the same statistical information you can get from Facebook, but I’d hazard to guess that senior citizens are probably embracing much of what the web has to offer.

  4. Hi there all my serior friends out there. I am a yong at heart and wish mybody would follow suit!

    I like to travel, but the last long hal nearly did me in, so sticking round Australis this year.

    Worked all my life as a nurse, now retired, but miss it.

    My grandaugter has carriied on the family tradition, as has my son and daughter in law

    My husband died 9 years ago, he was a very good man and I miss him a lot, but life ges on.

    1. I know how you feel Elizabeth . I love to travel ,my husband would rather stay home,so now i get my girlfriends together and go mostly cruising.We are mostly on a limited budject,and find cruising more to our liking than bus tours.I to am young at heart and put as much as i can into my life. My daughter got me onto facebook ,and i find its a lot of fun, just like to have more facebk. friends my own age would be great.

      1. I’ll be your friend. Just look me up on facebook and request to be a friend. I too am young at heart but can’t enjoy cruises as financial situations are limited. So enjoy as much as you can with your friends, we never know how long we’ll be here.

    2. Life has to go on my dear friend…Treasure the past and live for the present…

  5. Excellent article. Readers should also consider my website.

    It is a blog about sharing loneliness and deling with aging.
    Directory Includes:
    Top 10 Inspirational Older People
    Top 10 senior hobbyists sites
    Top 10 pet benefits for erlerly


  6. I think it is a good idea for age people to spend our time on the internet especialy if connecting with people of the same age. To keep going with our brain, knowledge…..

  7. We have been developing a social media site specifically for intergenerations, one that is as cool to young people as it is easy for grandparents. Our research has shown that most platforms are too cluttered and have levels of security that concern seniors. We set about simplifying the web, whilst providing the highest level of security. The result is
    We have been recognized in the UK as assisiting with narrowing the digital divide. Some 4 million people in the UK do not have access to a computer for one reason or another. The people also happen to be some of those in most need, with risk of losing touch with families and society.
    Our site is not meant to replace the facebooks etc especially for the younger and more technical generation, rather we are a place for families to communicate safely.
    You have Linkedin for work, facebook for friends, but where do you keep your family?
    Hopefully we have come up with the solution.

    1. How wonderful this is for seniors, much more sensible with a more mature outlook, love it!

  8. I just found this site while browsing, I have been searching for friends of Bygone days
    and so far have had no success, but may eventually have some luck here,
    at least the written English can be understood. Bob

  9. I just found this site while browsing, I have been searching for friends of Bygone days
    and so far have had no success, but may eventually have some luck here,
    at least the written English can be understood. Bob

    are there any Little Brothers still around out there??

    1. kathleen and other women (& maybe men)who would love to chat. I would love to hear from you. It would be so wonderful, to set up a network of friends on Seniors. To be able to have friends my own age, to chat to would be great.

      1. I just browse and found this page interesting. Hope to chat with any senior friend from any where. I am a 52 years old Malaysian chinese (widowed) would fine friend of any gender to chat. Hope to hear from somebody.

  10. i was just mucking around on the computer and came across this page its good to have something like this for the seniors i would like to hear from someone also

  11. I was in the U.S. Navy during WW2. We served in the South Pacific for 44 months. Our Captain figured the crew needed some R & R and made port in Brisbane for only a couple of days. Being under stress for so many years we didn’t spend our time in the libraries, senic tours and besides, I was 20 years old . We had a great time but regret the impression we must have left the people of Brisbane. So sorry… but it was a valuable time for us.
    When we sailed from Australia, soldiers landed in Leyte, in the Philippians. We passed through some small islands and were in the South China Sea ending up in Linguyan and started our patrol operation.. One day it was announced that the A bomb had been dropped and our war was over. Our ship was at Pearl Harbor, 4 chanpaigns, and credited with shooting down 5 enemy planes .

  12. I am disappointed that this sight, is not growing as it should be ,a wonderful way for us golden people to meet others, to chat & share ideas & thoughts. May be more promotion in the Seniors mag, Take 5, & Thats Life, with instructions on how to get yourself started.As i have found it so hard to get the idea on how this works i’m sure others have had the same trouble, & just give up.I am new to this & maybe you have done what you can to promote your site,& it hasn’t helped.

  13. Hi nice to see that us odler have some where to go and talk to some one my age not the kids I dont know if this the way one uses this but I dont give a S#$T the only thing is can I talk to some one please

    1. Hi Barry,
      I share your thoughts on having a site for seniors. I’m also interested in making contact with men who have had treatment for prostate cancer. Any takers.

  14. hi my name is maria this is my first time I just turn 60 so hollow to you all over 55 maria

  15. Hi…my name is shantha ..thanks to australia ..good start for global interaction and cross cultural sharing.

  16. Pingback: Geeky Granny
  17. as you can see I am 70 going on 55 I hope my first trip by myself happens in september to italy the butterflies are starting in the tum already hope someone can reply that has tried a trip on their own at about this age

  18. The sad fact is people with accumulated years of wisdom expertise and the sheer tenacity to survive are being overlooked.Australia needs these qualities on a daily basis.Young entrepreneurs are betraying these people by going offshore(China,India) because thats their best idea..very sad.I would like to see creative forums of over 55″s contribute.Yes there are those that have retired who want to travel and be free,there are those who are tired,ill or just cant be bothered.But there exists many brilliant minds even over 80 that want to contribute but wonder how.Facebook offers one avenue of forum with the over 55’s that has great potentials…go for it!!!

  19. Hi Laurel, do you have any up to date stats on 50+ users of facebook and social media?

  20. Hi Laurel, do you have any up to date stats on 50+ users of facebook and social media?

  21. I am looking for a person who lives in Australia from South Africa her maiden name was Kerry Adams I hope you can help me

  22. You are so interesting! I don’t believe I have read something like
    that before. So great to find another person with some unique thoughts on this subject matter.
    Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is
    something that is needed on the web, someone with
    a little originality!

  23. It’s awesome to visit this web page and reading the views of aall friends about thyis post, while
    I am also keen of getting familiarity.

Comments are closed.