The online generation gap between Millennials and older Americans is swiftly closing, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center, called "Generations 2010."
The most commonplace use for the Internet? Email and search, with 94% of all web users using the Internet to check email and and 87% to search for information.
Internet users aged 18-33 still rule the web when it comes to social networking, instant messaging, and wireless internet usage on laptops and mobile phones. And they also remain the generation with the highest percentage of active web users, at 95%.
But the older generations are catching up, in surprising ways. The fastest growth on social networking sites like Facebook has come from the G.I. generation, those aged 74 or older. This age group otherwise lags behind the rest of the generations, with only 30% using the internet, compared to the 79% rate across the general population. Yet when it comes to social networking, usage has quadrupled since 2008 from 4% to 16%.
Less surprising, perhaps, are the categories of internet usage the Millennials now lose out on. Those of Gen X, aged 34-45, engage in visiting government websites and checking their financial information more than do the youngest adults.
Other recent research showed that Baby Boomers, aged 46-64, actually surpass the younger generations in terms of spending on tech items, averaging $650 in a three-month period versus the Millennials, who spend an average of $581. And though boomers, at 66% of the group, send fewer text messages than the Millennials, at 88%, at least 84% of them do own cell phones.
Though the media often isolates the Millennials as uniquely entrenched in the digital sphere, both lamenting their increased distractibility and decreased sense of privacy, it seems that all Americans are gradually becoming somewhat more plugged in.