Older adults may love screens more than anyone else
The Future. Several recent studies have found that older Americans are spending more time in front of screens (TV, smartphones, tablets) than younger Americans, thanks to new habits set during the pandemic. That flips the script about screen use, and may prompt Hollywood, game studios, and app developers to invest more in creating content for a more mature audience.
Per WSJ, everyone likes to say that Gen Z and Millennials are addicted to screens, but boomers and Gen X may be just as bad.
- An AARP report found that Americans 65 and older have significantly increased their use of smartphones and tablets to read the news and play games.
- They’re adopting social media and doing more shopping and banking online.
- Another report from Nielsen also found that Americans 50 and up are the cohort fueling subscriber growth at Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
The surge in usage was mostly due to COVID lockdowns, forcing older Americans to learn how to use smart devices to keep in touch with friends and family. That quickly evolved into learning how to use them for entertainment purposes.
And according to Indira Venkat, SVP of research at AARP, it also created a new “dependency” on these devices. Now, they finally know how their grandkids feel.
Free time, stream time
What’s even more surprising is that Americans 65 and up were already starting to spend more time on screens than younger generations.
- Nielsen reported in 2019 that boomers were using screens for an average of ten hours a day.
- Most of that time was spent watching TV. (Hear that, streamers? Older Americans need new movies and shows to watch!)
- On the other hand, JAMA Pediatrics found that teens spend an average of eight hours a day in front of screens, also streaming movies or shows, and watching videos (probably on TikTok).
While plenty of studies have shown how prolonged screen time is bad for kids, that’s not something adults have to worry about. Instead, using smartphones and tablets to play games could actually be beneficial for mental health and social acuity.