NEW YORK -- Senior citizens are among the most enthusiastic Internet users -- once their children and grandchildren encourage them to log on for the first time, according to a study released in August.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project said 69 percent of wired seniors use the Internet on a typical day, compared with 56 percent for all users. Popular uses include using e-mail, getting news and weather reports, checking out hobbies and researching health information.
''These seniors, once they realize the vast amount of information available for them, they love it,'' said Susannah Fox, the project's research director. ''They don't have to go down to the library to find out about ... whatever (illness) their doctor's telling them they have.''
Nearly half the seniors said they were encouraged to log on by family members, while another 45 percent said it was something they had wanted to do. For all Internet users, fewer than 25 percent logged on because of family members, and 58 percent did so on their own.
Overall, about 15 percent of senior citizens in the United States use the Internet, compared with 56 percent for the general adult population.
The characteristics of seniors online today are similar to those of the general Internet population in the mid-1990s. Online seniors are typically richer and better educated, and 60 percent are men. In other age groups, poorer, less educated and female Americans have been catching up.
Seniors who have been online the longest are most likely to check e-mail or surf the Web soon after they wake up: 33 percent of seniors with three or more years of experience go online before 9 a.m., compared to 15 percent of those online for fewer than six months.
Like the rest of the population, seniors who have used the Internet longer are more likely to conduct financial transactions, including shopping, online.
The Pew study was based on telephone interviews with 26,094 adults between March 1 and Dec. 22, 2000. Of the 4,335 participants who were 65 and older, 670 were Internet users. Results based on online seniors have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
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