Fascinating details of internet use among the over 50s have emerged, including how they access the internet, what they’re listening to online, and even how they arrange dances in public squares. This growing demographic has some serious skills but also faces unique problems ranging from fraudsters to simply topping up their phones.

Tencent has co-produced a report and on how the elderly use the internet in China as part of a collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on internet use in general. The research was conducted by analyzing the data of elderly smartphone users and their browser history, plus surveys of WeChat users in eight cities and focus groups held in four. The survey sample size was 800 with 62.3% aged 50-60, 29.9% aged 61-70 and 7.9% aged 71-80.

The one skill that almost all had, at 98.5% of those surveyed, was chatting on WeChat. The second most common skill, funnily enough, is sending and receiving hongbao, with 83% able to handle the digital version of the red envelope tradition. 81.8% can send stickers and photos and 68.9% can take photos and videos within WeChat.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...