” Close relationships are good for our health and happiness” is the main conclusion of the long, brilliant Grant study carried out during 75 years by the Harvard Medical School. Every 2 years, 724 US American men born between 1939 and 1945 were asked questions. They were divided into 2 groups: one from the Harvard American elite and one from the poorest suburb of Boston. Whether people belonged to group one or group two, the conclusion was the same for all, as Professor Vaillant said in 2012: “Happiness is love. Full stop.”
The question today is how digital can be part of our happiness, how it can help to increase it? We will try to answer to part of this question by focusing on the senior section of the French population through the digital prism. By digital we mean: the Internet, social networks and all the services that have contributed to improving our daily lives (services, online sales, etc.).
Determining at what point people should start being considered as “seniors” is always a tricky question; for this article based on the “TNS Sofres le baromètre 55+ March 2016” study, we are considering people who are older than 55 (55+).
The TNS Sofres study shows that 81% of people are satisfied with their lives, and 22% are really satisfied! It reaches the same conclusion as the Grant Study – social life is the most important aspect: 92% of the seniors are satisfied with their relationships. By relationships we mean their daily communication with family and friends. This is a good criterion but what about the role of digital within this silver population? Does it affect their level of happiness?
French Silvers are undoubtedly true web surfers! Nearly 2 out of 3 seniors use the Internet, at least 1 out of 3 uses it very often, and one third never uses it. 69% of them own a connected device, and 39% have 2 connected devices.
They use multiple screens for multiple purposes. On average, seniors who use the Internet do so for 3 reasons: maintaining links with their families and friends is the main one. The second use is having access to news, sports news and the weather forecast. Looking for information on products and comparing prices is the third main reason why seniors go online. Half of them buy online, which still leaves some room for improvement!
There is homogeneity in the practices of the people between 55 and 70. Those over 70 obviously tend to go less online to get information or buy goods than their younger counterparts. But there is a consensual, trans-generational use of the Internet to communicate with relatives! This is consistent with the conclusions of the Grant Study: relationships are forged to last. Unsurprisingly, young seniors (<70) use their devices more intensively, especially to look at pictures, consult their bank accounts, and use social networks or the pay-per-view services.
51% of this population feels part of the digital transformation while 34% feel excluded from it. There is a true gap after 70. The 55+ who use the Internet and lead a “digitalized” life feel younger than the others. This feeling has a positive effect on the perception seniors have of their own lives and on the look others cast on them in return.
The Internet appeals to all generations when it’s come to communicating. All age groups use this function of Internet, which testifies to its tremendous contribution to the social life of these generations.
Overall, the Internet works as an elixir of life. When we feel well integrated into the digital transformation, when we use the Internet, we are more satisfied with our own lives, we are more satisfied with the reflection we see in the eyes of others and above all we feel much less … senior.
YES Digital helps to feel happier… at least in France… and this is very good news.