Adults Race To Embrace Technologies

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Hey, parents. Remember scolding your kids for sitting in front of the TV all day, or for texting at the dinner table? Or maybe you considered it a waste of time for them to be on the computer – playing with other online gamers from around the world, or surfing the net to watch their favorite music videos. Well, guess what? A growing number of you are just as guilty for indulging in such acts and more, according to several reports that found a large number of adults recently became early adopters of technologies.

A report released July 2009 by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that the audience for online video sharing sites such as YouTube and Google Video increased across all demographic groups, outpacing the adoption rates of other internet activities. According to the report, 62 percent of adult internet users watched a video on these sites, up from just 33 percent who reported this in December 2006.

About “89 percent of internet users ages 18 to 29 now say they watch content on video sharing sites, and 36 percent do so on a typical day,” the report stated. A similar study, conducted on behalf of Council for Research Excellence (CRE) by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design (CMD) and Sequent Partners, found that Baby Boomers ages 45 to 54 consumed the most video media.

Today, the New York Times reported that for decades, the adoption and use of technologies was limited to subculture groups such as “tech enthusiasts” or “gadget geeks.” But then a shift took place; at some point, mom and dad switched from playing vinyl records to syncing mp3 files on their iPods, while grandma started updating her Facebook status from her BlackBerry.

“There’s really no group out of the tech loop,” Jacqueline Anderson, an analyst with Forrester Research (a marketing firm based in Cambridge, Mass.), told the Times. She’s also the co-author of the Forrester report, which found that half of all American adults are gamers (about 53,668 households in the U.S. and Canada were surveyed by mail).

So what’s driving this recent surge among adults? The Pew’s report stated one cause was broadband connectivity providing high-quality viewing experiences and broadening the appeal of online video content. According to the report, 63 percent of American adults have high speed connections running to their homes, with 69 percent of broadband users watching video on sharing sites. (About 23 percent said they did the same on a typical day.)

In addition to broadband, the Forrester report found that three-quarters of American households have cell phones and PCs; nearly 10 million American households added an HDTV in the last year, a 27 percent increase over 2007. Charles S. Golvin, a Forrester analyst and the report’s co-author, summed up the findings to the Times. “The digitization of our daily lives has been steadily ramping up over the past decade,” he said.

But Anderson stopped short of saying adults outpaced their kids in adopting the latest technologies. While the figure was high for adults, she noted their adoption is still lower compared with the adoption of other home technologies. “There are more components and you have to understand how to connect them,” she said.

The Pew report also found that while online video viewing has grown across all age groups, young adults continued to lead the adoption curve. On a typical day in 2009, 36 percent of young adult internet users watched video on these sites, compared with just 30 percent in 2008; online adults ages 30 to 49 also increased over the past year, with 67 percent now using video sharing files, up from 57 percent in 2008.

On the complications of other home technologies, Anderson said, “Many people had the components for a home network before but didn’t necessarily understand what it meant to put them together or why they’d want to.”


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