San Francisco: While online social networks remain havens for the young, they are also becoming increasingly popular with the over 50 crowd in the United States, a study released Saturday showed.
"Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users," said Mary Madden, from the Pew Research Center`s Internet & American Life Project.
"Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications."
Nearly half of US Internet users ranging in age from 50 to 64 engaged in online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn during the year that ended May 30, according to the study.
That marked an 88 percent increase from the prior year.
The ranks of online seniors 65 years of age or older using social networks doubled to 26 percent, the research indicated.
One in five "online adults" ages 50 to 64 claimed to use social networking websites daily, while 13 percent of "wired seniors" said they did so.
"Social media has the potential to bridge generational gaps," Madden said.
"There are few other spaces -- online or offline – where tweens, teens, sandwich generation members, grandparents, friends and neighbours regularly intersect and communicate across the same network."
Pew research showed that older social network users were inclined to reconnect with people from the past, potentially creating support networks for retiring or changing careers.