50+ group comprises 15 percent of Internet users

A recent U.S. survey shows that a total of 7.6 million Internet users are 50 or older. They make up about 15 percent of the Internet-using population in the United States and Canada, according to Nielsen Media Research and CommerceNet.

“Older adults are approaching the Internet with intelligence, enthusiasm and a desire to master the new technology,” said Mary Furlong, founder of SeniorNet, a computer group for U.S. seniors. “Once they get on, they are committed to it.”

Ms. Furlong was addressing a U.S. Senate committee on aging. The committee heard that those over 50 use the Internet for such things as getting information about health plans and medical conditions, keeping in touch with friends and families, researching ancestral history and buying books.

Microsoft’s director of market development also addressed the committee. Craig Spiezle noted that while the “information age” is often linked with younger people, the dynamic between older people and the Internet is often overlooked. He also pointed out that technology can foster independent living, create virtual communities, unite families from all corners of the world, and expand education, creativity and productivi.