Nothing signifies social networking more than Facebook, the dominant platform for users in the United States and the choice of 71 percent of online adults in 2013, although not to the exclusion of other sites. That’s up from 67 percent a year earlier.
Where is this growth coming from? According to new data from the Pew Center for Internet and American Life, the answer is computer users over 65. That’s a significant generational shift. Until recently, Facebook was synonymous with a youthful communications revolution. After all, it was hatched in the dormitories of Harvard and its billionaire founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is not yet 30.
According to the Pew report, 45 percent of Internet users aged 65 or older now use Facebook, up from 35 percent in late 2012. It is particularly popular among older women. Meanwhile, the percentage of those between age 18 and 29 who use Facebook fell 2 percentage points last year. They are gravitating to other sites.
All of this may be a surprise, but it tracks with age-old trends that predate the Internet. What is cool with younger people doesn’t stay cool forever and the arrival of an older cohort is inevitably death to youthful appeal. Plus, Facebook happens to be a boon for parents and grandparents who now have quick access to family photos and news once delivered in letters by the mail.
Facebook will be around for a long time, but this is more proof of something we already knew — technology is inherently dynamic and the only certainty is more change.