The Internet and the Over-65 Crowd

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One hundred years ago the United States was a technological hotbed. Suburban homes were being wired up with power. Scores of electrical gadgets — like vacuum cleaners and washing machines — were being patented, and millions of homes were getting hooked up to manual telephone switchboards. Radio technology was in its infancy. The zipper had not yet been invented. The Model T was four years old. And Florence Detlor, of California, had just celebrated her first birthday.

Today, at 101 years of age, Detlor is an avid internet user. For the first time ever, a majority of people over the age of 65 are using the internet.

"I just wonder sometimes if I'm doing it all right, but I'm just trying my best, so that's all I can do," Detlor says about her internet usage. 

WNYC reporter Stan Alcorn shares what he's uncovered about technology’s oldest users. "She's part of a growing trend of people of an older age group who are getting online and also getting on Facebook [and other] social networking sites, using those to connect with other people in their lives," Alcorn says. Older people are much more likely to use these sites to maintain contact with family, while younger users primarily use the sites to keep in touch with friends. 

"A lot of people who look into this think that it can help make up for the fact that as people grow older, they have fewer social connections, they're often less mobile, some people are just more isolated as they're living at home and not in an environment [like] a nursing home or an assisted living facility," Alcorn says. The increased ability to maintain social connections is very beneficial to the elder generation. A recent study indicates that internet use among seniors leads to a 20% reduction in depression classifications. 

"It's very true. Keeping in touch, especially with great-grandchildren whom you don't see that often. They get used to seeing your pictures, which is a great help in communication," Detlor says.