Computer-savvy seniors on the rise

Personal computers, typically associated with younger generations, are becoming more and more prevalent among seniors.

In fact, the number of PC owners 65 and older more than tripled in the 1990s - from 8.8 percent of the elderly owning a PC in 1990 to 28 percent in 1999 - making it one of fastest-growing groups in the computer market.

A report by SCAN Health Plan, a nonprofit group for seniors, says the impetus for this generation's embrace of new technology has been the possibility to communicate with distant relatives and new communities of people.

In addition, seniors - especially the house-bound - value the independence gained by purchasing goods and services via the Internet. The report says the elderly are the fastest-growing group of online buyers this year, accounting for 16 percent of all online purchases, up from 4 percent in 1998.

Companies like IBM, America Online, and Microsoft are already tapping into this affluent age group. Microsoft even sent 10,000 free videos to elderly Americans this year to help augment their computer skills.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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