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The report, titled 2019 Tech Trends and the 50+, reveals that the 115 million Americans over 50 are an enormous market for technology and by the end of the next decade, they’re projected to spend $84 billion on tech products. And that’s just for themselves. It does not include all they buy for grandkids and others.
Right now, those between 50 and 64 are just as likely to use smartphones as the average American (83 percent have smartphones and 91 percent use computers). And 94 percent of people over 50 use technology to stay connected to friends and loved ones — most of them text or email someone every day, with texting now more popular than emailing. In some cases, tech fondness rises with age: 43 percent of tech connectors in their 50s use social media daily, while half of those in their 60s do.
The AARP research found that more than one-third of the over-70 group uses social media daily, and that percentage is apt to increase, given the striking trend in grownup tech-friendliness. In one year, use of home assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home almost doubled among people 50 and older, from 7 to 13 percent. In 2018, virtual-reality devices got 44 percent more popular among those over 50.
Those surveyed also say they want to continue driving, and technology helps them stay safer. Almost one-quarter of those over 50 have smart cars with driver assistance (automatic parking, emergency braking, lane-change detection, collision avoidance), and 46 percent plan to make their next car a smart car. Most men over 50 are interested in new technology, and 45 percent of women are.
More people over 50 use computers and smartphones to play games (63 percent) than to watch movies or TV (57 percent), and almost one-quarter use them to take online classes for degrees or certificates, or for how-to tutorials.
AARP’s study shows that popular misconceptions of older consumers not being tech savvy are clearly out of touch with current reality and future trends. There are more than 55 million Americans interested in tech products that make their lives easier and richer. By the end of the next decade, there will be 132 million Americans over 50, an increase of 17 million. They will change how we think about aging and technology even more.