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Online But Unsociable

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Research has shown that older wired Americans are actively involved in many online activities. But social networking remains an exception, at least when comparing people 40-plus to those who are younger. In an online JWT Boom/ThirdAge survey, just 22 percent of 40-plusers said they visit social-networking sites. Another 26 percent said they don't now "but might in the future." The rest of the respondents wouldn't even embrace this vague, maybe-sometime option, which suggests they'd sooner die than spend time on a social-networking site. If anything, the poll's findings may overstate the degree to which all wired 40-plusers go to such sites, since people who participate in online surveys likely have an above-average propensity to engage in all sorts of online activities.

Among those who shun social-networking sites, what's their reasoning? Nearly half (47 percent) cited concern about privacy and having personal information on the Internet. Thirty-nine percent said they don't have the time for it, and 32 percent said they "do not see any benefit from spending time on a social-networking site."

The study found other aspects of online unsociability among wired 40-plusers. Sixty-seven percent said they have "little or no interest" in blogging, and 62 percent said the same about playing online games with other people. Fifty-five percent said they have little or no interest in listening to podcasts or prerecorded audio content.