According to the Pew Research Center’s 2010 Internet & American Life Project, there will be over 26 million seniors using the internet in the U.S. by 2015. By 2030, tech-savvy baby boomers will mature into this demographic, making nearly one in five Americans using the internet a senior citizen. However, this demographic feels largely ignored by marketers, advertisers, and providers of goods and services across the spectrum…including colleges and universities.
An article in the New York Post found that according to Nielsen ratings data, once viewers turned 55, they were not being counted, likely because they’d passed the age that appeals to advertisers. But the article found that Alpha boomers are the fastest-growing demographic in the nation, making up half the population and spending more money on goods and services — nearly $2 trillion — than any other age group. They also buy more technology and gadgets — 40 percent of the market — than any other demographic according to research.
It’s not just advertising that isn’t capitalizing on this growing demographic. In an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Barbara Vacarr suggests that traditional four-year colleges should be thinking about shifting gears to focus on this change, potentially creating programs for students in their 50s and beyond…people who also apparently have the money for and interest in these programs. It is heartening to know that the Program Goals and Learning Aims of the Emerging Media program at Loyola University Maryland address some of these issues head on, and provide a platform for analytically and ethically addressing other issues posed by the seismic change of U.S. population demographics.
By Margaret Perry, Graduate Student
Master of Arts in Emerging Media
Loyola University Maryland