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?