Late Bloomers

As Gen Y's interest in social media flattens out, baby boomer participation is at an all time high. Are you listening, Dad?

By Michele V. Wagner, Senior Digital Editor

Whenever my sister and I go home to visit our parents, we love to gossip; our folks are always amazed at what we’ve gleaned about old friends and enemies, schoolmates, coworkers and neighbors from Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, LinkedIn and Twitter.

My father recently called to ask me whether he needed to be on “Myface" to help his career and stay connected. Too bad this hybrid site doesn’t exist yet, Dad, but it can’t hurt to join a social networking site that is up and running. You may be a bit late, but, as they say, better late than never. According to Accenture’s latest Consumer Electronics Usage Survey, baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964) are the fastest growing user group of social networking sites, while Generation Y’s interest in these sites, blogs and wikis has reached a plateau.

According to the survey, the number of boomers:

  • reading blogs or listening to podcasts has grown to 28 percent from 18 percent since March 2008, while the percentage of Gen Y doing so has remained flat at 45 percent
  • watching and posting of videos on the Internet has grown to 36 percent from 26 percent, while the percentage of Gen Y doing so has dropped 2 percent
  • using social-networking sites grew to 28 percent from 18 percent, while the percentage of Gen Y doing so rose to 82 percent from 80 percent.

While I am not surprised at the jump in baby boomer social media participation, I am a bit confused by the leveling off of Gen Y, who had embraced the new technological culture at its inception.

Perhaps Gen Y is now more interested in creating connections in person, since online communication has been so deeply ingrained in our psyches (guilty as charged). 

Or perhaps the baby boomer generation is looking to archive its own generational knowledge and experience in this new digital space. Whatever one’s age or participation level, social media has evolved not just for recreational use, but for universal information sharing. 

Dad, you’ve learned to e-mail, text and Blackberry message to keep tabs on your crazy children, why not learn social networking to keep tabs on your professional industry, your contacts and the world at large? Everyone your age is doing it. (How’s that for peer pressure?) Whether you’re a boomer, Gen X or Y, social media can have a place in your professional life.

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