NEW YORK —As eyecare professionals look to assess their online presence as a way to connect with patients, new data shows that social media is not just the province of millennials and younger users. Today, one in five adults 50 to 64 years old are using social media networks regularly.

So says one of the latest reports out of the Pew Internet & American Life organization, which regularly monitors developments in the digital media world.

While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22 percent in April 2009 to 42 percent in May 2010, according to Pew's latest report on Older Americans and Social Media.

Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50 to 64 grew by 88 percent—from 25 percent to 47 percent.

During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100 percent—from 13 percent to 26 percent.

By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18 to 29 grew by 13 percent—from 76 percent to
86 percent.

“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” explained Mary Madden, senior research specialist and author of the report. “Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications.”

One in five (20 percent) online adults ages 50 to 64 say they use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10 percent one year ago.

Among adults ages 65 and older, 13 percent log on to social networking sites on a typical day, compared with just 4 percent who did so in 2009.

At the same time, the use of status update services like Twitter has also grown—particularly among those ages 50 to 64. One in ten internet users ages 50 and older now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others.

This report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the internet. The results in this report are primarily based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 29 and May 30, 2010, among a sample of 2,252 adults, age 18 and old.