Lavasoft News - February 2007

Age and the Internet - Misconceptions

It may have been the case until recently that anyone over the age of 50 thought "surfing the web" was a term reserved for those with a board and a beach.

Today, this crowd is as cyber-savvy as its kids and even grandkids.

Studies are showing that the number of seniors who surf the web is on the rise, with some calling them the fastest growing demographic. A recent Pew Internet report found that 34 percent of Americans age 65 and older go online, up from 29 percent a year earlier.

The steadily growing number of web-surfing baby boomers has already begun to have an effect on the web.

Jeffrey Taylor, founder of the online employment site Monster.com, believes that life begins at 50, and he wants to share that view through the web. This past July, he launched a social networking site, Eons.com, aimed at inspiring baby boomers throughout the world.

Eons.com has opened up a new door to audiences in the 50-plus age bracket. "We're excited about the reception we've gotten from marketers who have been looking for a way to reach this audience," said Eons.com SVP of Strategic Development Linda Natansohn.

"Eons is like a breath of fresh air; we are approaching [the audience] with optimism and spirit. We've really been embraced and it feels like these companies have been waiting for a long time for a company like Eons to engage and innovate with."

The media company is also adapting online searches to the desires of the cyber baby boom crowd. cRANKy.com, "the first age-relevant search engine," is a specialty search page designed to process requests from the perspective of computer users who are above 50 years old.

Launched in early January, cRANKy is trying to simplify things by limiting search results to four listings, as well as making those listings more relevant to its target audience.

"We've discovered that, universally, the Eons Generation doesn't like to wade through millions of search results. So, we created cRANKy.com to engage this energetic group of web explorers who embrace technology, including those who may not be as well-versed at Boolean searches and complex narrowing techniques as younger generations who grew up on the Web," Taylor said in a recent press release.

"This whole group hasn't grown up with the Web, and they didn't really need to use it in their jobs," Taylor said.

The 50-plus community is obviously trying to educate itself on PC security and privacy, as "computer virus" and "computer crime" both made cRANKy's top 10 web searches in 2006 (based on Eons user searches).

Since many in this group are new computer users with less online experience, understanding security is a key issue.

The Federal Trade Commission has developed a website to help seniors, baby boomers, and other Internet users protect themselves from the many cyber threats that are lurking online.

For more information, visit OnGuardOnline.gov.

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