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Age doesn't matter when you are on Facebook: Study

(PTI) A new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project says the number of social networking users aged 50 and older nearly doubled in the past year, continuing a trend of strong growth that was first spotted last year.

In fact, for adults between 50 and 64 years, the use of social networking sites have jumped by 88 per cent in the past year, the study found. For those aged 65 and older, it has doubled.

The younger generation, however, still remains the biggest users of Facebook and other sites.

But the report shows that seniors currently make up the fastest-growing group.

"It's surprising to see just how fast they are growing," said Mary Madden, senior research specialist and author of Pew's study.

The Pew Centre points to several factors that contribute to why Facebook is no more for kids anymore.

Using Facebook to find old friends and colleagues isn't unique to any one demographic, but Pew says roughly seven out of ten people have used social networks for this purpose.

Roughly half of adults aged 50 and over have been contacted by someone from their past through a social network.

As people retire or change careers, social networks can be a way to stay in touch or get support.

Pew notes that Internet users with chronic diseases are more likely to blog or participate in online discussions, and older folks are more likely to have these diseases.

Put those two factors together, and you've got a strong argument for social networking as a way to find communities of people with similar experiences.

Pew says older folks may use social networks to connect with their progeny, despite results that "can sometimes be messy".

The group doesn't provide hard data to support this claim, but it should seem like common sense to anyone whose parents use Facebook.

Pew doesn't mention the prevalence of social games such as Farmville as a reason Facebook attracts older users, but it seems obvious when you look at the demographics of players.

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