Closing the Age Gap of Smartphone Users

Written by Hank Hammond

Accusations of smartphone overuse have generally been targeted at younger users from the age of 18 to 25. However, as smartphone technology continues to infiltrate into society on a social and business level, older generations, notably citizens of developed countries over 55, are observing a shift in their lives as well.

We can’t shy away from it, there is an ever-growing percent of young adults that can be observed as having a smartphone addiction. A study conducted by Deloitte Consulting shows that 67% of 18 to 24 year olds check their smartphones everyday within 15 of waking up in the morning[1]. They continue by checking it on average 53 times a day. In order of frequency, this demographic looks at text messages, emails, and social media more often than anyone else. In fact, the South Korean government claims that one in five students in the country are addicted to their smartphones[2]. While this is a paradigm shift worth addressing, it leaves out the movement in older generations that is going mostly unnoticed.

By the end of 2014, one in four citizens will be over the age of 55[3]. This is mostly due to the aging of baby boomers, and has in effect forced most industries to adjust their marketing and product development practices to coincide with the shift. As the changing world becomes consumed by obsessive use of smart phones, the older generation feels pressure to resist technological isolation. Already one in five adults check their phone at least 50 times a day1. Deloitte estimates that over 55’s will experience the greatest level of smartphone penetration over the next year1.

Companies in the mobile device industry are struggling adapting to this shift, and are constantly searching for ways to improve usability for the older generations. One in four over 55’s with a smart phone have never downloaded an application, which causes major issues for app-development companies whose livelihood  relies on these downloads3. Critics might say that the apps are programmed by younger people for younger people. However, a huge market exists for companies who can appeal to an older demographic with relevant applications that are easier to use and view. The gap between generations of smartphone users is said to close completely by 2020, according to Deloitte, and the technology to appeal to both groups will surely follow1.


[1] Zekaria, Simon. “Phone Addicts of the World, Unite.” The Wall Street Journal 4 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <>.

[2] NAM, IN-SOO. “A Rising Addiction Among Youths: Smartphones.” The Wall Street Journal 23 July 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <>.

[3] “The Smartphone Generation Gap: Over-55? There’s No App for That.” Deloitte. 1 July 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.


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