Tech-savvy seniors: 1 in 3 older folks now prefer sending texts, emoji, GIFs over phone calls

NEW YORK — Move over kids, grandma and grandpa are ready to enter the smartphone conversation. A new study finds Americans over 65 have finally mastered the art of the text. In fact, one in three now prefer texting to phone calls.

For today’s seniors, figuring out texting and social media has given them quite a bit of joy as they say it’s a great way to bond with their grandkids. A recent survey finds that those over 65 even have favorite emojis including the heart (43%) and the happy face (43%). Other popular emojis for those over 65 include the beer emoji and assorted animals. One in 10 have even surpassed emoji use and now send GIFs to stay in touch with their grandchildren.

Seniors finally adapting to the future of communication

grandparents Finding JoyThe pandemic also prompted one in three seniors to learn how to use social media and brush up on their pop culture skills as a way to bond with the younger members of their family. Nearly one in five (17%) add that their children or grandkids introduced them to Netflix during COVID.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Comfort Keepers, the survey polled 2,000 Americans, including 1,000 over age 65. Researchers examined changing attitudes toward family and joy after a year of isolation and compared the results to a similar study from 2020.

While people are thankful tech has kept them connected, nothing beats an in-person visit. Respondents said seeing family members (42%) and spending time with them (38%) would bring them more joy than traveling (37%), seeing close friends (32%), or not wearing a mask as often (28%).

Those over 65 prioritized seeing family the most (55%), compared to last year, when dining at a restaurant topped their post-pandemic to-do list. While last summer saw Americans missing dining out, travel and personal freedom, they found more happiness in connecting with family.

Prioritizing ‘family’ in family vacation

grandparents Finding JoyWhen asked to name the first thing they can think of that brings them joy, most respondents named children, grandchildren, or spouses. So it’s no surprise that people plan to see their loved ones as soon as they’re fully vaccinated (45%), before attending a sporting event (20%) and frequenting the beach or pool (27%).

“Fueled by a desire to reconnect and bond with their younger family members during a year of social distancing and quarantining, the older generation is making an effort to ‘learn their language.’” says Alexis Abramson, PhD, Lifestyle Gerontologist, author and spokesperson for Comfort Keepers, in a statement. “The past year has only reaffirmed that the non-material things like family and friends bring us the most joy.”

The pandemic will have a long-term impact on respondents’ day-to-day lives, with four in 10 saying they learned how to “stop and smell the roses.” Even still, nearly two in three are desperate to get back to the hustle of their daily routines.

“People are seeing the benefits of slowing down and taking the time to appreciate all they have,” Abramson adds. “Whether staying connected with family or just taking a moment to reflect, they continue to find joy in the simple things.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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