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Older Netizens to throw weight

Watch out, Generation-Xers. A new study says that baby boomers are poised to stake their claim in cyberspace.

Watch out, Generation-Xers. A study released today says that baby boomers are poised to stake their claim in cyberspace.

The survey of 7,000 Excite users showed that 14 percent of respondents were ages 50 and above, and the study's authors say that percentage is going nowhere but up.

"Every seven seconds, a baby boomer turns 50," said Bryan Preston, spokesman for study cosponsor Third Age Media, a media and consulting group for people over 49. "From that you can infer that it's going to be a very fast-growing group."

The study, released at a New York City conference called Business Meets the Age Boom At the Electronic Frontier, shows that older users not only are getting online but also are spending as much time there as younger Netizens. Eighty-three percent of users in the 50-plus age group log onto the Internet at least once a day, which the study says is the same percentage as that of users under 50. The over-50 group also spends more than ten hours each week online, according to the study.

Another finding should make marketers take notice: Net users in the 50-plus age group were more likely to spend their money online.

"It's not just the Generation-X folks who are shopping on the Net," said Preston. "It's the 50-plus population that has the highest disposable time and disposable income and now has the willingness to shop online."

While the younger members of the age 50-plus group were introduced to the Internet at work, a majority of those surveyed logged in from home.

The majority of older respondents cited their motivation for getting online as the desire to try something new. Coming in second was the need to keep in touch with family members. That has pushed companies such as WebTV to sell Internet access to older potential customers.

The study also found that older respondents showed greater interest in subjects such as government and politics, investing, news, travel, spirituality and religion, medicine, and culture.