It’s official: here’s a snapshot of the results of our older bloggers survey. Yes, older bloggers do gain mental, emotional and social benefits from blogging, and yes, some do have problems with usability and accessibility.
- Mental benefits: 75% of respondents agreed that blogging “gives me something new to think about”, and 19% made comments similar to these: “it keeps my mind active”, “challenges me to learn new things”, “sure gives the memory a workout” or “improves my analytical skills.”
- Emotional benefits: 96% of respondents said they got a feeling of satisfaction and 80% said that blogging made them feel happy.
- Social benefits: 56% agreed that blogging helps them to feel they are not alone, and 70% said it “gives me contact with the outside world.” Numerous comments on various questions stressed the friendship and connections formed by blogging.
- Usability and accessibility difficulties: 47% agreed or strongly agreed that technical issues with a blog can be a challenge, but 29% disagreed or strongly disagreed—no problems for them. Around 18% had physical issues that restricted their blogging: vision, hearing, energy, mobility or pain. In their comments, these bloggers particularly stressed the need for visual accessibility.
A dream problem: too much high quality information
Over May–June 2018, 120 bloggers answered an online survey that I had compiled with the help of Judith Davey.
You see, I had a bee in my bonnet: to discover whether, as I believed, the habit of blogging was a source of mental, emotional and social benefits for older people, and to get a clear picture of what barriers of usability and accessibility confronted older people.
As well as answering 21 multiple choice questions, respondents were wonderfully generous with their comments — so generous that I could write a book about it, if I only had time.
Here’s my brand new problem. I thought the Older Bloggers Survey was just a little exercise which would satisfy my own curiosity and maybe lead to better service for seniors.
However, turns out we gained so much information that every time I contemplated writing up the complete results, my heart sank and I postponed the job for another day. Too much! Too interesting!
So instead I’ve decided to write separate articles about the main conclusions and various other issues that arose. I’ll publish them on this blog as I complete them. If you did the survey and asked for a report on the survey results, I’ll alert you by email about future articles on the topic.
Why this information about personal bloggers is precious
For at least ten years, various organisations have been keeping track of the blogosphere: the world of blogging. However, the blogs they survey always have a marketing or professional purpose.
I hesitate to use the word unique, yet I haven’t discovered anything comparable to our survey, where respondents are primarily blogging for personal reasons. I wonder why nobody has bothered, up to now? Maybe because…
- Nobody knows how many blogs exist in the world at any one time, let alone what percentages are personal or hobby blogs. They come and go, undocumented, which is no bad thing.
- There’s a hypothetical profit in any marketing blog, so there’s a commercial interest in data about such blogs. Personal blogs exist for other, non-profitable purposes.
- To run even a small survey in a sound and ethical way and analyse the results is quite a big undertaking. This exercise is not part of a PhD thesis: it is a labour of love, a volunteer service.
Although this is a small study (120 respondents answered most questions) it was carefully designed and produced a wealth of information. We want to share the results as widely as possible. The ultimate aim was not to help bloggers to earn more money, but (now that the results are in) to find ways of helping older people to benefit from the practice of blogging and the community of bloggers.
Future articles about the older bloggers survey
At this moment, this is the schedule I’ve got planned, and trust me, I’m trying to keep it short. No wonder I felt daunted! (Update: I’m altering the original list as I change it on the go… it keeps growing, I’m afraid.)
- Who answered our Older Bloggers Survey?
- Older bloggers: patterns of engagement with the blogging process
- It’s not mandatory to join the blogging conversation
- Older bloggers: choice of devices and channels
- Historic data about bloggers: their age and choice of blogging platforms
- Stretching our brains: cognitive benefits of blogging for older people
- Satisfaction and support: blogging brings emotional benefits to older people
- We’re not alone: blogging brings social benefits to older people
- Technical difficulties: what help would older bloggers appreciate?
- How best to extend the benefits of blogging to isolated older people
Cartoon and text by Rachel McAlpine CC BY 2.0—please share, with my name and a link to this page!