About 78 million baby boomers are living in the United States today, and 65.1 million of them are online. In fact, they account for one third (the largest constituency) of the 195.3 million Internet users in the U.S.
So, what are they doing online?
Regina Lewis, AOL's consumer adviser, dropped by The Saturday Early Show to answer that question, and to point the way tp some Web sites created just for baby boomers.
SOCIAL NETWORKING FOR BOOMERS
Boomers are expected to be the next wave of social networkers: It's hard to find a college student without a MySpace or a FaceBook page. To expand, networking sites are being forced to shift their focus to older users. Right now, only about 1 million of the more than 215 million social networkers regularly active today are older than 50. But by the end of the year that number could explode to 20 million.
BOOMER SOCIAL NETWORKING
www.eons.com is a free site that has been described as "MySpace for the 50-plus crowd." You do have to be 50-plus to join. The average age of site users is between 50 and 60, with about the same number of men as women.
Eons launched about seven months ago and already has more than 100,000 members. This is proof that social networking isn't just for teens and 20-somethings; everyone wants a community, no matter how old they are. The site operates like MySpace or Facebook; you create your own page or profile, but many similarities end there.
Eons has formed dozens of online groups around the interests of an older crowd, such as Investing, Bookaholics, Boomer Music, etc. And boomers still like to flirt; one of the most popular groups is: "Internet Dating After 50." Another one is simply called "Hot Tub."
BOOMER SEARCH ENGINE
www.cRANKy.com: It got its name because the creators say that many older users get cranky when they use more traditional search engines. Launched Jan. 1, this site is run by the same folks who launched Eons.com. cRANKy.com uses consumer research on Internet-surfing habits and has identified the 5,000 sites most popular with boomers. They tweak search results to boost the placement of those sites so users see them higher in the list of results. Results are also narrowed down to the top four search results on any given topic and presented in a simple, easy- to-understand format.
BOOMER NEWS & TRENDS
www.Boomergirl.com is a new site for "Boomer Babes." It grew out of a Kansas woman's weekly column on her own midlife mi-adventures and the challenges and humorous happenings of being a female over 50. Cathy Hamilton, who wrote Boomer Girl Diary for a local paper, was surprised when she searched for similar content online and found little.
The site offers advice for dealing with aging parents and growing kids, top travel destinations for girlfriend getaways, book reviews, financial planning advice, etc.. While the site is mostly geared toward "boomer women," there is a "Men's Room" on the site.
There are also some provocative features like advice on sex and relationships and, coming soon, an insomniac's club for women awakened by hot flashes.
www.iRememberJFK.com focuses on the way things used to be, just looking at and reading about the old cars, clothes, food, gadgets, etc. from the '50s and '60s. Eight track players, transistor radios, Polaroid cameras, and how about the little yellow plastic 45 inserts you'd put in the middle of the record so you could play it on your portable record player? You can also read about things like old soda pop, the ones you really can't find anymore like RC Cola, Nehi, Orange Crush and Shasta. Also, something called "Lucky Tiger Hair Tonic," Leisure Suits and "PF Flyer" tennis shoes.
If you have any of the stuff you see on the site stashed away in your addict, it might inspire you to pull it out. It can be a real hit with collectors. Dust it off and put it on eBay; you might be surprised at what it goes for.
http://www.aginghipsters.com/: It's a blog created by two 50-something baby boomers who are obsessed with the baby boomer generation. The name "Aging Hipsters" acknowledges the passing of time but hints at a remaining trace of cool. It carries lots of original content, bulletin boards, user comments, '60s and '70s music, boomer culture, health, politics and careers and culture. Lewis says the site does a great job of keeping users up-to-date with the latest news affecting boomers.
Some other sites recommended by Lewis: