Seniors aren’t into smartphones, but still use Facebook frequently

The MTM's latest report shows that seniors are still big media consumers, even if they don't own all the same devices as their younger counterparts.

Want to reach seniors? A good amount are on Facebook – but probably not the mobile site.

A new report by the MTM shows that Canada’s senior citizens are still big media consumers, even if they don’t own all the same devices as younger (English-speaking) Canadians.

The report on seniors is the third and final report in a series of studies by the MTM on different generations within Canada. Like its report on Gen X and Millennials, the report studied 4,000 participants throughout Canada through a mixed-method survey.

Seniors, defined as people 73 and up, make up less than one-tenth of the population (8%).

Most (90%) are retired, and are more likely to live on a fixed income. Just under one quarter (23%) bring in between $35,000 and $75,000 per year, on par with the rest of the population, and one-quarter live on incomes of $35,000 or less per year, compared to 12% of younger Anglophones, and . Only 2% are in the highest earning bracket of $150,000 or more. Nearly half live alone.

Seniors and their devices

Smart TVs and internet-connected TVs are less common among this cohort; only 20% have connected to the internet through a TV set (compared to 58% of younger Canadians). Most still own a home computer (70%) and have an internet connection (72%) but it’s far less than younger Canadians (91% and 94% respectively).

A significant number of seniors (39%) have no cell phone at all; 27% own a basic cell phone and 34% own a smartphone. More common among this age group is tablets; 40% own one (compared to 60% of younger Canadians).

Only 2% own smart speakers.

Media consumption

The fact that seniors own fewer devices than younger Canadians doesn’t mean they’re not big media consumers.

More seniors than younger Anglophones are identified as heavy news consumers (40% of seniors versus 33% of younger demos). Even more (78%) consume local news daily (compared to 59% of younger Canadians) and 78% consume national or international news on a daily basis (compared to 57%).

Seniors are heavy TV watchers; 91% have traditional TV subscriptions, compared to 70% of younger Anglophones. While they’re less likely than the general population to cut out (or cut back on) cable, a sizeable amount (11%) were identified as “potential cord-cutters” (people who expressed that they’re somewhat or very likely to cut cable in the next year) and 13% were identified as cord-shavers. Only 30% watch OTT or SVOD content, less than half the rate of younger Canadians.

However, they still consume more TV content than their younger counterparts with 22.8 total hours per week (compared to 14.8 hours per week among the younger crowd), most of which are traditional TV formats.

They’re also almost just as likely to use Facebook as younger Canadians; 85% have used the service in the last month (compared to 88% of younger). Less popular, however, are Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Reddit and LinkedIn.