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Baby Boomers Spend Lots of Leisure Time Glued to Screens

Data shows older Americans are increasing their screen time  television, computer, tablet and phone  even more than teenagers or young adults. (Adobe Stock)
Data shows older Americans are increasing their screen time television, computer, tablet and phone even more than teenagers or young adults. (Adobe Stock)
July 30, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — In the past decade, Americans ages 60 and older have increased the time they spend on computers, tablets, phones or watching T.V. by nearly 30 minutes per day. And that means the Baby Boomer generation and those older spend more than half of their daily leisure time in front of screens.

That screen time also breaks down along gender lines, according to lead study author Gretchen Livingston, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center. She said that's because women perform extra household chores and run more errands.

"When we look at men ages 60 or older, they're spending more time on a daily basis on screens than women,” Livingston said. “So they're spending about four hours and 45 minutes on screens, whereas for women it's closer to four hours."

Livingston noted that extra 30 minutes per day of screen time may not sound like a lot, but it goes hand-in-hand with how much time older adults spend sitting, which is associated with obesity, diabetes and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Data shows that during retirement transition, most Americans increase the time they spend sitting from four-and-a-half to six hours per day.

Roughly 10,000 boomers every day celebrate their 65th birthdays, and three-quarters say they're internet users. Livingston said the amount of time those 60 and older devote to various screens is likely related to how much time they spend alone.

"Our data found that on average, people ages 60 and older spend about seven hours a day alone, and 14% spend all of their waking hours alone,” she said.

Livingston added when people live by themselves, alone time rises to more than 10 hours a day for those 60 and older compared with about five hours for people in their 40s and 50s. Americans 60 and older currently account for 22% of the U.S. population, which will jump to 26% in the next 10 years due to the aging of the Baby Boom generation.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD