Baby Boomers Spend the Most Time Online

Survey respondents listed social media sites, reading news content and watching video content as their top three online activities.

baby boomers and limelight

Time spent online in the past year has dramatically increased —with 45 percent of respondents to a recent survey spending more than 15 hours a week on their laptop, tablet or phone, according to a Limelight Networks survey of 1,302 consumers located in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Singapore.

More than half of Baby Boomers (51 percent), individuals aged 51-69, are online 15 hours a week, as opposed to Millennials—individuals aged 18-33—at just 41 percent, a somewhat surprising finding considering the stereotype of 20-somethings glued to their mobile devices.

"The finding of Baby Boomers leading the way in time spent online was definitely surprising. Of course, we had expected it, intuitively, to be Millennials," Jason Thibeault, Limelight’s senior director of marketing strategy and author of the report, told eWEEK. "But perhaps it's a reflection of Boomers recognizing the Internet's ability to keep them connected with friends and family. As we age, we naturally want to stay connected to friends and loved ones more and the Internet provides the easy means to do that, especially when those friends and family are geographically dispersed."

Respondents listed social media sites, reading news content and watching video content as their top three online activities. Reading news content was most popular in 2014. E-commerce finished in fifth place, behind researching products online.

Social media remains the most popular online activity, however Millennials are spending nearly as much time watching online video, which the report said is likely to increase as additional video and streaming options such as live sporting events are made more available.

"Although we believe that social media will continue to hold sway as a top online activity, online video watching is growing in importance, especially to the younger demographics, and may eventually take over the top spot," Thibeault said.

Last year, the majority (52 percent) of participants listed a high-performing website as their most critical expectation, with just 41 percent willing to wait more than five seconds for a website to load.

While performance was still critical in 2015, patience is on the rise for Internet consumption—this year, 52 percent would wait more than five seconds.

Moreover, this year, 33 percent said they would leave a website to buy a product from a competitor if the site loaded too slowly, down from 37 percent last year.

Additionally, in 2015, 72 percent would be willing to give the slow-loading site a try in the future, up from 69 percent last year.

When asked what is causing the change in users rejecting a more personalized Web experience, Thibeault said he thinks it's all about tradeoffs.

"Perhaps users are becoming a bit more accepting of what's required to get a better Web experience as it relates to their privacy," he said. "What's more, they might see the value of recommendations and other personalization features on the websites they frequent."