MSN-TV Poll: Seniors Saying It in E-Mail, Not Letters

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 16, 2004 — Shove over, sonny, and make some room at that keyboard. Grandpa has some e-mail to send.

A new survey, commissioned by Microsoft’s MSN-TV, reveals that older Americans are embracing the Internet as a communications tool with overwhelming enthusiasm. Among the findings of the study — conducted by E-poll for MSN-TV — 79 percent of Americans 55 and up now prefer e-mail to handwritten letters or cards for communicating with family members.

To learn more about the E-poll study and its surprising revelations about the online habits of older Americans, PressPass spoke with Sam Klepper , general manager of MSN-TV.

PressPass: What did the poll reveal about Internet use by older Americans?

Klepper: The results of the MSN TV survey conducted by E- Poll show that many older Americans are fully embracing the benefits of the Internet.

The poll reveals that, of those Americans over the age of 55 with Internet access, 97 percent go online daily to send e-mail, research hobbies and stay in touch with their family and friends.

PressPass: Why is the Internet booming in popularity with those over the age of 55? What does it offer this demographic?

Klepper: Without question, the most common Internet application used by older Americans is e-mail. E-mail is quickly replacing handwritten letters and note cards. In fact, 79 percent of survey respondents prefer to communicate with family members via e-mail rather than traditional mail.

PressPass: What other Internet applications are older Americans utilizing?

Klepper: In addition to e-mail — used by 52 percent of older Americans — the survey also found that this demographic commonly uses the Internet to receive digital photographs from family members (30 percent), shop online, get news and weather updates, and research information on hobbies and other interests.

PressPass: How do older Americans feel about connecting to the Internet?

A. While countless older Americans benefit substantially through use of the Internet, others still find technology daunting. Unlike younger generations who have been exposed to computers in the workplace and at school, getting online is not always so easy for this generation. Many seniors consider themselves computer “newcomers” and more than half indicate that they’re Internet “beginners.”

PressPass: Is the number of seniors going online growing?

Klepper: The number of senior citizens connected to the Internet is growing every year, and, according to the survey, one of the primary reasons is to keep in touch with family and friends. Today, older Americans find that exchanging e-mail and surfing the Web can greatly improve their quality of life.

PressPass: How has access to the Internet improved the lives of seniors?

Klepper: The majority of older Americans, 94 percent, feel that access to the Internet has improved their lives; with 90 percent saying it has made life “easier.”

The key finding from the survey is that the Internet has opened lines of communication between seniors and family members- 63 percent say that communication between themselves and family members has increased since they went online. Of the respondents, 71% receive e-mail from family members at least once a week and 14.5 percent on a daily basis.

PressPass: How does MSN TV make it easy for older Americans to access the Internet?

Klepper: Older Americans find that MSN TV from Microsoft is an ideal device for them because it is easy to use and it offers them the full Internet experience — all on the television set they already have in their homes.

MSN TV users can easily receive and view e-mail and photos from their families and also research their favorite recipes, vacation destinations and other topics, all from the comfort of their living rooms.

PressPass: How was this survey conducted?

Klepper: The MSN TV/E-Poll survey of 500 respondents was conducted in October 2003, with a sample error of +/- 4 percent. The E-Poll report surveyed a representative group of adults over the age of 55 who were randomly selected from the E-Poll online panel. Statistics based on sub-samples of the respondents are more sensitive to sampling error.

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