Source: Center for Media Research

According to a new study conducted by CPH Research on behalf of Continuum Crew, Baby Boomer-aged respondents’ anxiety has shifted from the collapse of the economy to the cost of health care. Most significant is the shift in the media consumption of this age group, as the only media activity to rise dramatically was time spent on the Internet.

This is one of several insights on the emergence of the new ‘social media maven’ among Baby Boomers, and indicates that social media has significantly carved out time generally reserved for traditional media.

Baby Boomers/Boomers are defined as the generation born between 1946 and 1964, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Generation Jones, coined by television director Jonathan Pontell, is commonly considered to be those born between 1954 and 1964, representing the younger segment of Boomers. Generation Ike (Ikes) are those born between 1934 and 1945.

Top Findings on anxiety and life events of Boomers are:

  • Anxiety about the economy has decreased in the past year (46% indicated it as the issue they were ‘very nervous’ about in 2008); now the issue of most concern is cost of healthcare, as indicated by 49% in 2009.
  • For older parents more adult children are moving back home than are leaving it. This is a previously unprecedented finding within this research series, and markedly shows that Boomers’ lives are in transition.
  • Boomers are now re-framing the notion of frugal living into the idea of simplicity. Children moving back in with parents, or delaying leaving their parent’s home, is likely having an effect on the family dynamic and household, which may mean an inclination to the return of the extended family structure of the World War II era.

Top findings on media consumption are:

  • Ikes and Boomers still use traditional media more than those of Generation Jones or Generation X, but not all Boomers consume media in the same way, the biggest gap being between older and younger Boomers. This is most striking within traditional print media, with high consumption by older Boomers of newspapers and magazines.
  • Among all media services listed, Boomers were least willing to give up the Internet, versus the top response of the 2008 survey,their cell phone. The survey shows they now spend more time than ever online (a rapid increase in one year from 38% to 62% stating they now spend more time online).
  • The majority of Ikes and Boomers have joined popular social networking site Facebook© within the last 6 months.
  • Boomers are becoming more aware that national and local news, magazines, and to some extent television and movies, are available to them via the Internet, indicating an increasing preference to access content this way. These responses illustrate a seismic shift among older adults, says the report, experimenting in the social media arena.

In the course of the study, says the report, a significant segment emerged within the Boomer group, dubbed the new “Social Media Maven.” The profile of this group is one that is heavily connected, exploring and expanding their networks.

These Social Media Mavens have more frequent contact with individuals across all types of groups within their social network, not just family or neighbors, but issue-oriented groups and co-workers as well:

  • 73% responded ‘People often come to me for advice’
  • Not merely amassing ‘friends’ or ‘connections’ they are communicating regularly.
  • They also have more face-to-face contact and use smart phones more than other Boomers or Generation Jones respondents (78% responded ‘New technology plays an important role in my life’)
  • They are equally likely to be male as female, which defies the stereotypical female profile of the voracious social media consumer
  • Of this Social Media Maven group the majority are still working, more likely than the other segments to own their own business, most likely to engage in volunteer activity and to have the highest household income
  • Social Media Mavens are more likely to try new products, technologies and seek new experiences. They are recommenders who embrace the role of technology in their connected lives

Lori Bitter, President, Continuum Crew, concludes that  “With more time being spent online, and the emergence of the new Social Media Mavens among Boomers… for companies targeting the mature consumer… online media should be at the core of an integrated marketing campaign… ”

And, supporting the findings that Boomers lives are in transition, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 13% of parents with grown children say one of their adult sons or daughters has moved back home in the past year. Social scientists call them “boomerangers” — young adults who move in with parents after living away from home. This recession has produced a bumper crop.

One-in-ten adults ages 18 to 34 (10%) say the poor economy has forced them to move back in with Mom and Dad. An additional 12% say they acquired a roommate. Hard times are leading young adults to put their lives on hold in other ways as well. For example, some 15% of adults younger than 35 say they have postponed getting married because of the recession; an additional 14% say they have delayed having a baby.

According to the survey, nearly half of all adults (46%) have children ages 18 or older. Among these parents of adult children, some 13% say at least one of their grown sons or daughters had returned home in the past year for any reason. The proportion of “boomeranged parents” increases to 19% among those ages 45 to 54 and declines sharply in later age groups.