There is no arguing that the internet serves to fill a variety of different holes in people’s lives. As the internet savvy age group grow older, and people online are getting increasingly younger it has become very important to identify demographics in order to reach the right audience.
One well known organization that conducts internet usage research is the Pew Research Center (http://pewresearch.org/). They use surveys to feel out the trends that occur between generations. There are downsides to conducting research through a survey, for instance most surveys are driven by awareness and you run into individuals sharing the survey opportunities with people of similar interests which could skew the results. However, with a large enough pool, surveys can be widespread and useful.
This image below is the compilation of all of Pew’s data from 2010. It is the most recent data they have for a comparison of this scope, even though they have published some raw data for 2011. They groups people into an specific generations based on age, and arrange that generation by their participation in certain activities online. It is interesting to note that this does not lay out an average person for that generation and the amount that they access each activity. You could have a handful of people from the G.I. Generation that partake fully in all aspects of the internet that raise certain percentages up, while also having large groups use only one aspect of the internet.
According to their research, email and internet searches are common across all generations in a very significant way, with 92% of Adults using both daily. Looking at statistics such as these it is also interesting to consider from where these people are accessing their email. Perhaps a smartphone, or a work computer, or a tablet while at Starbucks. Each generation treats technology differently, and because of this the trends are different.