Digital Generation? Latest Breakdown of Web Users By Age Group

What age group uses the Web most heavily? The latest numbers may surprise you.

Here a ranking of unique Web site visitors by age group for February 2006:

  1. 50 and older: 47 million.
  2. 35-49: 42.5 million.
  3. 17 and under: 30.3 million.
  4. 25-34: 19.9 million.
  5. 18-24: 11.2 million.

Seventeen-and-under users are third; traditional college-age students are dead last. Digital generation? Geezers rule the Web.

Source: Etter, Lauren. "Google vs. Justice: Privacy, Pornography, Secrets." The Wall Street Journal, 18-19 March 2006, A7.

4 thoughts on “Digital Generation? Latest Breakdown of Web Users By Age Group”

  1. While interesting on their own, those numbers would be more interesting as percentages. Looking at readily-available 2004 estimates (tricky, because the Census Bureau site I looked at doesn’t split at 18), I see–assuming that 18 and 19 year olds account for 40% of those 15-19–and omitting the 0-5 year population as probably not representing much internet use:

    1. 6-17: 74% of 41 million
    2. 35-49: 65% of 65.2 million
    3. 50+: 61% of 76.9 million
    4. 25-34: 50% of 39.9 million
    5. 18-24: 42% of 27 million

    So, by this metric, traditional college-age students do appear to be dead last, but the young’uns are the most avid users. Alternatively, people ages 25-34 don’t make their ages known when on the internet…

    Us geezers are right in the middle. But there are a whole bunch of us geezers around.

    I would wonder how “unique web site visitors by age group” can be calculated, but that’s another question.

  2. Walt:

    Thanks for the additional analysis, which does put a different spin on the numbers, especially for the 17-and-under-crowd. Still, I find it quite interesting that, in your analysis, the 18-to-24-year-olds remain dead last and the 25-to-34-year-olds remain next to last.

  3. Charles: I wonder about that too, and what I particularly wonder is how reliable these figures are–how we “know” how old web users are. I can’t think of more than half a dozen sites where I’ve given my age, and then almost always on secure pages.

    That’s what I suggested in passing by “people ages 25-34 (and maybe people ages 18-24) are less inclined to make their ages known when on the internet. Probable? No. Possible? Yes.

    Also note that I could be incorrect in leaving 0-5 year olds out of the under 17 bracket. I’m pretty confident about 0-1 year olds, but there are certainly 3-5 year old kids who can read and type well enough to use the internet…that would reduce the percentages.

  4. Walt:

    The article doesn’t indicate how the age data was gathered. The data sources seem to be reputable, and the Wall Street Journal seems like a credible publication. But, I agree that it is a mystery how the age data where gathered.

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