Growing numbers of American seniors are going online, chipping away at the dominance of 18- to 44-year-olds who comprise half the Web population, according to a study released Wednesday.
Since 2005, the population segment that has made the largest online gains in the United States is the 70- to 75-year-old age group, the Washington-based Pew Research Center said.
"While just over one-fourth (26 percent) of 70-75 year olds were online in 2005, 45 percent of that age group is currently online," according to the survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
But it is the young who still dominate the Internet population, the study showed: 93 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds were online in 2008, compared with 89 percent of those 18-24, 83 percent of those 40-44, and 62 percent of those 60-64.
While email remains the most popular online activity, especially among older users, instant messaging, use of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and blogging have gained ground.
Pew said that while senior citizens are "competitive" when it comes to using email, "teens might point out that this is proof that email is for old people."
Indeed, email use among teens slipped from 89 percent in 2004 to just 73 percent last year.
The online entertainment world clearly remains the realm of the young.
Some 78 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds play video games online (more than twice the rate for adults overall), 68 percent send instant messages, 59 percent download music and 49 percent read blogs.
Of older Baby Boomers (55-63 years old), only 21 percent download music and 25 percent read from blogs.
And 10 percent of those 12-17 visit virtual worlds, compared with just two percent of adults, the survey showed.
Of Generation Xers (33-44 years old), fully 82 percent seek out health information online, about the same rate as those 73 and older.
Generation X is also most likely to shop online (with 80 percent doing so compared with 71 percent for the 18- to 32-year-old Generation Y), manage their bank accounts online (65 percent) and consume news on the Web (76 percent).