Boomers are online for music, video, games and love connections

A Leger Marketing survey for Yahoo! Canada shows it's no longer unusual to swap MP3s with grandma.

Dispelling the assumption that baby boomers only surf the web to book cruises and sort their finances, a Leger Marketing survey released yesterday for Yahoo! Canada shows that the 45- to 64-year-old demo is also downloading music, dating online and emailing chums in large numbers.

Of the 2,111 baby boomers surveyed, 65% say they email their friends and family more often than they call them on the phone. Women are more likely than men to be on social network sites (50% compared to 45%), and their most popular activities include communicating with friends, posting pictures of themselves and subscribing to RSS feeds. And although 68% said they were reluctant to give up their dusty old record collection, 56% admitted they use the Internet to download or listen to music.

‘The opportunities for that demographic haven’t even started to reach their potential yet,’ says Sara Moore, Yahoo! Canada director of marketing. She explains the survey was issued to help better understand the demo, and in the future, to offer more than just finance and travel sites in their ad packages. ‘Now we can say ‘they’re everywhere on the site, let’s get a really comprehensive program that has branded content, search [marketing] [and] components within mail,” Moore tells MiC.

As to where boomers are hanging out online, women declared a love for gaming – 60% said they use the net to play games, compared to 46% of male boomers. In turn, male boomers are more likely to watch online videos and TV (41% versus 28%). The survey also shows that one in three unmarried boomers try to hook up through personals and dating sites because they can meet people with similar interests.

‘We really shouldn’t be surprised that they’re doing this. I mean Madonna’s 50, this is her generation. And they’ve always been cultural leaders,’ says Moore.

The majority of boomers also believe they’re able to discern reliable health sites from the sketchy ones – 59% said they use the net to read up on health issues, a whopping 78% try to self-diagnose by researching specific diseases and symptoms, and more than half look for diet and exercise advice.