"The perception is that Americans over 50 only dabble on the Internet, but we are finding that they are increasingly spending time online becoming involved in robust Internet activities, such as online communities," said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. "In specific areas, there is often little difference in use of online technology between older users and some of the youngest users."
Consumers older than 50 are rapidly growing fond of the Web, with such users checking news, for example, more frequently than those younger than 20 as well as participating in online communities more. But the new university study found that instant messaging and video downloads were "still tools for young users. Only 9 percent of users 50+ said IM was important or very important compared with 48 percent of users younger than 20."