A new survey is providing insights into seniors’ use of the Internet, social media and cell phones and how these technologies affect their marriages or committed relationships.
The “Couples, the Internet, and Social Media” report is based on a survey of 2,252 adults contacted in April and May 2013 by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on behalf of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.
Among the findings:
Sharing email accounts: The likelihood of sharing an email account increases with age. Overall, 27 percent of couples who use the Internet share email accounts; 33 percent of those surveyed who are aged 50 to 64 years do it, as do 47 percent of those aged 65 or more years and 42 percent of those who said they were retired.
Sharing online calendars: Sharing online calendars is less common than sharing email accounts, and it is more prevalent among parents and middle-aged couples “at a stage in life in which logistical scheduling can be challenging.” Overall, 11 percent of couples who use the Internet do it; 10 percent of respondents aged 45 to 54 share online calendars, as do 5 percent of those aged 55 to 62 and 11 percent of those aged 65 or more.
Sharing social media profiles: Little demographic variation exists when it comes to sharing social media profiles among partners. Among all surveyed couples using social media, the rate was 11 percent; 12 percent of those aged 50 to 64 do it, as do 11 percent of those aged 65 or more and 16 percent of those who said they were retired.
Sharing passwords: Sharing passwords is much more common than creating joint accounts; 67 percent of all responding couples who use the Internet do it, 66 percent of those aged 50 to 64 years share passwords and 69 percent of those aged 65 or more do it.
Sexting: The sending or receiving of sexually suggestive photos or videos via cell phone is on the rise. Overall, 9 percent of cell phone users have sent such a message, and 20 percent have received one; these are increases from 6 percent and 15 percent, respectively, over a 2012 survey. The percentage of people who have forwarded such a message—3 percent—remains unchanged from a previous survey in 2012. Of those aged 45 to 54 years participating in the survey, 15 percent have received a sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photo or video via their cell phone, 11 percent have sent such a message and 2 percent have forwarded such messages. Of those aged 55 or more years, 4 percent have received a sext and less than 1 percent have sent or forwarded such messages.
Effect on their relationship: Of those aged 50 to 64 years responding to the survey, 4 percent say technology has had a major effect on their relationship, and 11 percent say it has had a minor effect. Of participants aged 65 or more years, 1 percent say technology has had a major effect on their relationship, and 10 percent say it has had a minor effect.
See other content by this author here.