This week, our blog series on Russian Internet User Demographics turns to the Internet habits of middle-aged Russians, as we observe the trends of the 45-54 year-old age group.  As Russia’s population ages, the way middle-aged and elderly Russians use the Internet will become increasingly important.  This is especially true as younger Russians are more connected than their older peers, meaning that the next generations of older Russians will be far more active online than those today.  This is not to say that contemporary middle-aged Russians are absent from the Internet.  Three-fourths of 45-54 year-old Russians are online, and they represent a larger proportion of Internet users than the 18-24 year-old group.  Read on to find out more about how middle-aged Russians use the Internet.

Internet Use

45-54 year-old Russians represent the third-largest group of Internet users, according to TNS Russia. They constitute a slightly larger proportion of Internet users than the 18-24 year-old cohort. This is the first age group at which Internet penetration drops below 90%, with around 75% of 45-54 year-olds active Internet users. That leaves significant room for growth, especially as Russia becomes an increasingly more connected society.

Taking the lower penetration into account, you might expect this group to be considerably less affected if they were to lose access to the Internet. This, however, is not necessarily the case. Almost half of Internet users in the 40-49 cohort and the 50+ group told Fom.ru their lives would be significantly affected were they to lose the Internet. Around 40% said their lives would change somewhat, while just 10% and 9% said their lives would not change at all. It is clear that even among older Russians who use the Internet less than their younger peers, the Internet forms a critical part of their daily lives.

This is likely due in large part to the high number of middle aged Russians who must use the Internet for work, though social media use is still high among this group. Over half of 40-49 year-olds told Fom.ru they use the Internet most often for work, the highest percentage of any age group. This same age group, meanwhile, reported the using the Internet least for social media, though nearly 60% of 40-49 year-olds reported being active social media users. Russians 50 years old and older were most likely to report using the Internet to read the news and for social media, and less likely to use it for work. Russians 40 years and older were least likely to report using the Internet outside of work or school several times throughout the day, but most likely to use it casually a few times a week. 45-54 year-old Russians were much less likely than their younger peers to use online dating, with this group representing just 7% of online dating users.

Social Media

As noted last week, social media trends among older Russians are quite different compared to their younger peers. Odnoklassniki is the most popular social network among Russians older than 40 according to a Fom.ru survey. While VK is the second most popular network in the 45-54 cohort, they represent one of VK’s smallest user groups (higher only than the 55+ group). Facebook still has room to grow, with just 19% of 40-49 year-olds and 12% of 50+ year-olds reporting using the network. Instagram sees the highest age disparity in users. While over a quarter of 18-24 year-olds reported using Instagram, less than 5% of 45-54 year-olds used the photo sharing service. Mail.ru’s social network had over twice as many users among this age group. This cohort are only marginal users of Twitter, though it bears repeating that Twitter is not especially popular among Russians of all age groups just yet. Middle-aged Russians were more likely to report not using social media at all, with 15% of 40-49 year-olds and 26% of 50+ year olds reporting no social media usage.

Social media use was lowest among this age group and older Russians. While two-thirds of Russians 18-24 reported visiting social networks multiple times a day, around just 20% of 45-54 year-olds reported the same. 45-54 year-olds were more likely to report using social media once a day; 40-49 year-olds were the most likely to do so, though just 38% told Fom.ru they visited social networks daily. Compared to their younger peers, 45-54 year-old Internet users were less likely to have used social media for every activity, from communicating with friends to consuming visual and audio media.

Accessing the Internet

Mobile Internet use drops precipitously among middle-aged Russians. TNS Russia reported there being 5.1 million mobile web users 45+ years old from November 2014-January 2015, the lowest among the age groups we are observing. Furthermore, because of the high number of middle-aged and elderly Russians, this meant that just 18% of 45+ year-olds were mobile web users.

This low mobile usage is reflected in the results of a Fom.ru survey. While half of respondents between 40-49 reported accessing the Internet from a mobile phone, this drops dramatically among Russians 50 and older to just 24%. Middle-aged Russians were most likely to report accessing the Internet from a desktop computer at home or at work.

E-Commerce

45-54 year-olds are less likely than their younger peers to engage in online shopping, with this group constituting about 15% of all e-commerce shoppers. That being said, in a Fom.ru survey, 39% of 40-49 year-olds and 26% of 50+ year-olds reported using the Internet for buying goods or services in the past month. 28% of 40-49 year-olds and 17% of 50+ year-olds reported paying for something using e-money.

Next week Russian Search Marketing demographic blog covers the 55+ age group to wrap up our readers’ knowledge on Russian Internet user behavior and interests by age.