What devices do older bloggers use for reading and writing blogs?
Laptop and desk computers are favourites for both consumption and production, but smaller devices also have their devotees.
Q. 10. Where do you usually read blogs? Choose one answer, even if you sometimes use a different device.
- on a mobile phone: 12%
- on an iPad or other tablet: 17%
- on a laptop or desk computer: 72%
- print blogs on paper: 0%
Of the 20 people who commented on this question, 13 indicated that they used more than one device to read blogs. Examples:
- It’s close to 50/50 between a laptop and my phone. Some days, it’s almost exclusively my phone.
- All the first three, don’t print.
Bloggers said they selected which device to use for reasons of comfort, convenience, and accessibility, for example:
- I like to be comfortable, as I would when reading a book or newspaper.
- I read some on my desk top computer. Depends on how accessible the blog is. It may be easier to read on an iPad.
While about 29% of older bloggers were happy to read blog posts on a small device like a smart phone or tablet, only 8% used small devices for writing and publishing. The vast majority produce their blog posts on a laptop or desktop computer.
Q. 11. Where do you usually write and publish your blog posts? Choose one answer, even if you sometimes use a different device.
- on a mobile phone: 3%
- on an iPad or similar tablet: 5%
- on a laptop or desk computer: 92%
Comments on this question make two things clear. Our sample of bloggers choose their devices for well-defined reasons, and they are willing to experiment.
- “Even if I type a post on mobile, I rarely publish on mobile. I like the laptop function better.”
- “I love my MacBook Air for its good-size screen and keyboard, and elegance and ease of use”
- “Mostly because I have problems with my hands, typing on small places…actually I have a lot of problems with my hands, although I do know touch typing from early 1960s typing school”
- “iPad is too small and slow”
- “Easier to do on a bigger screen”
- “It’s easier, I think, on a laptop. But I’m going to use an iPad when I travel overseas in August.”
- “I am beginning to trial writing and publishing using a smart phone.”
Reflecting on these two questions purely from personal experience, I think these results make good sense. In fact I may be a typical older blogger in this respect. I personally find my iPhone fine for reading and commenting but impossible for posting (big thumbs, small keyboard, small type, small screen); I find the iPad Pro nice for reading, a little dangerous for commenting and impossible for posting; and my laptop is absolutely fine for any WordPress activity including publishing. No surprises.
What channels do older bloggers prefer for their blogging?
WordPress dominates as the preferred channel for our respondents, but here too, older bloggers are exploring, changing, and experimenting.
Q. 12. Which social media platform do you use for blogging? Choose one answer.
- WordPress: 87%
- Another blogging platform, e.g. Blogger, Typepad, Medium: 10%
- Facebook: 3%
- Instagram: 0%
I presume the dominance of WordPress in the answers to this question partly reflects the dominance of WordPress on the internet in general, and partly the fact that many respondents learned about the survey right here on Write Into Life, a WordPress site. I assumed the results would favour WordPress blogs, and so I asked just one over-generalised question on this topic, which has left me hungry for more information.
Comments help to fill out the picture. Some older bloggers use multiple social networking platforms or have changed platforms. (Later questions in the survey make such behaviour appear to be fairly common.)
- “My first blog was with blogger called Nutty Notes. I switched to WP for my second and subsequent blogs and love the platform.”
- “Has worked okay for me, but have considered moving to another — definitely not FB or Instagram.”
- “Am also now exploring Medium”
- “I now use Micro.blog”
- “I also post on Facebook and Linked In”
- “I use Blogger but then IFTTT posts it to WordPress for me and then it goes to Facebook, both my private page and my business page.”
I would like to know much more about the social media activities of our group. This was a difficult question to frame and a difficult one to answer, for at least six technical or lexical reasons:
- Blogging takes place not only on dedicated platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger and Medium, but also on Facebook, Instagram, Tumbler, LinkedIn, Reddit, and many others. Not many Facebook posts, for example, are blogs, but it happens, and 3% of our respondents use Facebook for their blogs.
- Blogs are often contrasted with social media. Yet for millions of people, their blog is primarily that, a social medium.
- The border between blogging and microblogging can be fuzzy, as people write extremely short blog posts (a photograph, a 3-word quote) and extremely long ones on Facebook.
- Other blogs (many thousands of them) are for in-house consumption, as part of what was once called an intranet.
- A blog can be defined by its technology, which enables anyone without technical skills to create a website and interact with others online. So what’s technically a blog is in some cases a filing cabinet or database, and it may not be on view to the general public.
- The WordPress content management system is widely used to make blog-free websites, or websites which happen to include a blog: an organisation’s blog may seem completely different from the personal sites of older bloggers.
So you see why I may have asked the wrong question. Regardless, we got some interesting results that could be explored further
My personal conclusions: older people feel comfortable with a blog
- Older bloggers tend to feel comfortable on WordPress or Blogger
- Older bloggers have their reasons for choosing a blogging format instead of, or as well as, other social networking channels.
I think about this quite a lot. I am about to commit a coarse generalisation based not only on the data in the survey, but also on numerous comments from you, gentle readers, on this blog, and also in real life. In real life I talk a fair bit about the Older Bloggers Survey and consequently I get many unsolicited comments. I know that if I’ve got this completely wrong, you will tell me: please do!
I think plenty of older people feel a bit like I do. To me, blogging on WordPress feels like a comparatively calm, stable, steady, controllable environment. You have room to write long posts like this and freedom to write tiny ones. Blogging takes place in a community that is, on the whole, kind and encouraging. Although a baffling number of bloggers apologise for missing a regular posting date, it really doesn’t bother most readers how often or regularly you post or visit their blogs. You can keep track of other bloggers without religiously reading every word they write. You can write a blog for your own sweet reasons and never read a single one, you can commit wholeheartedly to the community aspects or remain aloof, you can use your blog like a megaphone or a hermit’s cave—in the blogosphere, there’s room for everyone.
What older bloggers say they don’t like about other social media channels
Many people have told me they find Facebook frenetic and manipulative, and they hate being bombarded by ads and political propaganda and news. Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram may seem fly-by-night and hectic to an older blogger. LinkedIn doesn’t seem to arouse negative feelings, but it’s a network for professional and career purposes; retired people may remain there out of inertia, I suspect.
When older bloggers consider any of the numerous other social media networks and potential blog platforms, they’ll either feel comfortable or not, for a similar range of reasons. Intuitively we’re probably sensing whether or not it’s a safe place for us. Exploring social media is an adventure, but if a place feels unsafe or otherwise threatening, we won’t stay long. (Nobody has told me this: it’s just what I think.)
Speaking for myself, I use Facebook casually as a writer and to check up on certain family members. I’m still on LinkedIn but I wonder why (since I have sold my company, ceased contract work, and have no desire for a new job). I use Twitter randomly except in earthquakes. I can see the charm of Instagram but may never dig deep. Blogging suits me best, because I’m old.
Text and drawing Rachel McAlpine CC BY 2018