According to a new AARP Tech Trends report, tech use by people 50+ skyrocketed during the pandemic and those new habits and behaviors appear here to stay. What's more, most of those surveyed (70%) purchased tech last year, with spending far greater today than it was in 2019: $821 now versus in $394 then. Smartphones, and related accessories, along with Bluetooth headsets, topped the list of purchases, but smart home technology was vital to them, too. Unsurprisingly but importantly, technology use has facilitated social connectedness throughout the pandemic. The rates of reliance on tech for social connection is consistently high across age ranges: 76% of those in their 50s, 79% of those in their 60s, and 72% of people 70+ all count tech as their link to their families and the wider world.
"The pandemic redrew the lines: Tech has gone from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have for Americans 50+, and their new habits are here to stay," said Alison Bryant, AARP Senior Vice President of Research. "Those who can afford tech are spending a lot more than they did just a few years ago – more than twice what they spent in 2019. And their motivations vary: Some use tech to work, others to stay connected to family and friends, and others still to enable them to age in place or help them. At the same time, we're also mindful of the digital divide, where a lack of affordability can also mean no access to tech and its benefits."
AARP 2022 Tech Trends Report Key Findings:
- Older adults continue to incorporate tech into their lives. Certain tech behaviors formed during the pandemic appear to stay such as, video chat, making online purchases, ordering groceries, banking, and engaging in health services – with older adults making more purchases and financial transactions online compared to previous years.
- In the last two years, older adults' usage of a home assistant and owning a wearable has doubled. The study reveals that learning how to use and manage smart home technology is a top interest of the 50-plus. Smartphones continue to be adopted in new ways to manage day-to-day living and entertainment. This year, one third of older adults ordered food from a restaurant and one in four listened to podcasts on their smartphones.
- Health-related innovations and daily objects that automatically track health measures are also of top interest. However, 42% of older adults feel tech in not designed with them in mind.
- About 30% of older adults are using tech to pursue personal passions, mostly with video content. Streaming content continues to increase with most of them subscribing on average to three platforms.
Additionally, AARP will have a booth at CES 2022 in Las Vegas, NV to further shape and drive conversations among industry leaders at the intersection of longevity and technology. AARP Innovation Labs will host a number of speaker presentations, a pitch competition with celebrity guests, and much more.