I remember having to show my grandfather how to use a mobile phone.
He is one of the smartest people I know. Ask him about Shakespeare or W.B. Yeats and he can quote their entire collected works to you. And yet, a lump of plastic with 17 buttons completely baffled him.
Talking to him on it is even funnier. He always sounds like he doesn't really believe that he is talking to me. It's too weird for him.
And don't even get me started on getting him onto a computer.
He owns one. I think it gets turned on roughly twice a year.
Given this has been my experience, I thought this was was the norm with older people.
As it turns out, I was wrong.
I was looking into the demographics of tablet users, given the ipad and its friends have a massive impact on how films are being purchased and consumed (look up 'multi screen content' if you don't believe me).
Ironically, I had just talked to my Grandfather in the preceding days. His latest big issue was the unexplained change in flavour of Heinz's 'Baked Beans in Ham Sauce'.
They weren't as "ham tasting" as they used to be, apparently.
Keeping this in mind, my mouth fell open when I read that older people (50-65 and 65+) are one of the large growing markets for tablet computers. Apparently, the oldies like the intuitive touch screens and the high resolution.
My shock turned to borderline disbelief with the next stunning fact:
'As of April 2012, 53% of American adults age 65 and older use the internet or email.'
'As of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day.'
As if that wasn't enough, it turns out the numbers of older people using social networking sites overall are growing significantly. Of ALL AGE GROUPS OF SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE USERS between 2008 and 2010, over 65s jumped from from 2% to 6% of total users. More significantly, over 50s went from 9% to 20% of total users.
SO much of the wisdom and education around using the online world to attract viewers focuses purely on the younger generation.
Is this a subtle form of age discrimination? Not letting older people play the game, even though they want to?
It's counter-intuitive too.
Think about it: how many older viewers, and therefore how much money, are we leaving on the table because we don't engage with them, even though they are there?
I don't have the exact answers, unfortunately. There is enough information there to make a case, but we need more data to be absolutely sure.
And perhaps I don't have the perfect personal example. The last time I spoke to my Grandfather, he told me he was watching French news, to try and help him learn French.
He couldn't understand much though, he said.
But that's my Grandfather, the lovable luddite.
There are plenty of other older people who are online, on their tablet or computer, looking for content to consume.
Think about how much disposable income and leisure time these older people have. Who better to be a viewer of your film online or a regular viewer of your work?
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