Over 60s are the fastest growing group on Facebook Messenger. Does age influence how we engage with our smartphones?

It’s official, we’re obsessed with our smartphones. This might come as no surprise if you’ve ever spent more than five minutes on a commuter train, but we are glued to our screens.
Roughly 85% of the population now own smartphones and a third of us admit to being addicted to checking them. But does age change how are we using them? Who is still primarily using their device to make calls and receive messages?

Our research revealed almost 100% of 45-54-year olds use smartphones, making them the highest-ranking age group. But, whilst age isn’t a huge factor smartphone ownership, when we look at usage of features and apps, the numbers reveal a lot about age and behaviour patterns.

How are different age groups using their smartphones?

According to our recent consumer data report phone calls and sending SMS’ are still the two most popular phone uses – with 98.3% of people using their phone for calls and 92.2% still using SMS. Women aged 16-24 are the most frequent texters, with 70% using SMS or IM constantly throughout the day. Infact, according to Experian Marketing services, adults aged between 18-24 send and receive over 128 texts every day, whilst over 55s send and receive about 161.

Then there are the alternative messaging services, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Interestingly, whilst only 6% of users over 60 have migrated to WhatsApp, 43% have made the switch to Facebook Messenger2. This is most likely due to a rise in popularity of Facebook as a social media channel within this age group, with over 500,000 over 55’s joining the platform in the UK last year3.

In recent years Snapchat has grown from a small photo sharing app to a fully-fledged messenger service, with 300+ million active users a month. According to Omnicore, more than 25% of smartphone users are on Snapchat, but unsurprisingly, 77% of Snapchat users are aged 18-24. That number almost halves to 38% of 35-44-year olds, before dropping off to just 8% of 55-64-year-old and 2% of over 75s4.

Sending and checking our emails was the 4th most important phone use in our survey, with 86.8% of people checking their inbox on their smartphone. According to research carried out by Ofcom, in an average week, 81% of 25-44 year olds checked their email, whilst only 61% of over 65s check their email weekly6. Under 35s are most likely to check their email on their smartphone over any other device, with 92% of 25-34-year-old preferring it to a desktop or laptop5.

When it comes to the most popular phone activity (anything not considered a feature) browsing is the most popular. This can mean scrolling through social media, browsing websites. Men aged 25-34 spend the most time browsing day to day, but we have all made a switch in recent years. Infact, smartphones have now overtaken laptops and desktops as peoples primary browsing device, with 85% of people choosing their phone compared to just 72% of people using laptops.

Jason Palgrave-Jones, our Managing Director had this to say.

‘We can see the current older generation still value their phones most primary functions. They still view their phones primarily as a way to stay in touch, be it via a phone call, SMS or an alternative messenger service. What is difficult to gauge is whether this is down to them failing to adopt newer smartphone tech, apps and capabilities or a personal choice or preference. We will only get a clearer idea of this when the tech native generation reaches maturity’

Are you communicating with your audience the right way?

What age group is doing what on their smartphones?

About the data

  1. https://www.textrequest.com/blog/texting-statistics-answer-questions/
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/611255/snapchat-users-in-the-united-kingdom-uk-by-age-group/
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/12/is-facebook-for-old-people-over-55s-flock-in-as-the-young-leave
  4. https://www.statista.com/statistics/611255/snapchat-users-in-the-united-kingdom-uk-by-age-group/
  5. https://www.emailmonday.com/mobile-email-usage-statistics/
  6. https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/102755/adults-media-use-attitudes-2017.pdf

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