new study shows Arizona has the No. 4 most tech-savvy seniors in America in 2023, while nationally technology usage by seniors hit record highs in 12 categories.

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You’ve heard about iPad kids – but what about iPad grandparents? The days of older adults struggling to work the TV remote are long gone, as America’s seniors lean into the digital world and shed their reputation as the country’s most reluctant adopters of new tech.

Record numbers of seniors are seeing the benefits of tech in their everyday lives. National data shows that compared with just four years ago, seniors are more likely than ever to use social media, stream movies and TV shows, take online classes, and even work remotely, while they’re spending hundreds of dollars on wearable and smart devices. Given the aging global population and the speed of technological advances, the United Nations even called for the prioritization of digital tools that are tailored to meet older people’s needs.

Technology is so critical for older adults because it can help them maintain their independence and manage their health as they age. As the covid pandemic made clear, video-chatting and other digital communication ensures that seniors stay connected with family and friends from afar, helping to combat social isolation. On the other hand, not knowing when to log off can also be a problem – and older adults are spending nearly 10 hours per day in front of a screen. Ultimately, it’s all about balance.

Not all seniors are fully on board with technology, though. Older adults are more likely to view tech in a positive light since the pandemic, but many still lack confidence or aren’t quite sure how to use their own devices, an AARP survey found. Those challenges can be even tougher for homebound seniors, 15% of whom still lack access to technology at home.

And while seniors are becoming more tech-savvy, so too are the industries that support them. As Marlena del Hierro, gerontologist and Vice President of Partnerships for Seniorly shares “the senior living industry as a whole has really leaned into using technology to drive resident engagement. It’s so exciting to see what a difference it can make for some older adults.” Assisted living communities in tech-forward areas are leveraging Alexa for communication and engagement programming , or even using VR to simulate travel experiences. 

To determine where America’s most tech-savvy seniors live, we analyzed federal data across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., measuring factors like internet and computer access, work-from-home flexibility, telehealth use and personal spending on tech devices relative to the local older population.

Here’s what we found:

  • Washington, D.C., has the most tech-savvy seniors, followed by California and Utah. Meanwhile, West Virginia came in last, with Mississippi and North Dakota rounding out the bottom three states for technology use among older adults.
  • Americans spend hundreds of dollars on tech devices relative to their states’ older populations, with those in Washington, D.C. ($703), Utah ($603), Texas ($539) and Nevada ($513) spending the most.
  • Mississippi is the only state where fewer than 3 in 4 seniors have an internet connection at home, likely contributing to its below-average share of older employees who work remotely (7.2%) and used telehealth during the pandemic’s first year (37%).

The national picture:

The pandemic was a turning point for older adults and tech adoption, given millions of Americans were stuck at home or separated from loved ones. The share of seniors who use a smartphone, for example, rose from 57.6% in 2019 to 65.6% in 2021 – the highest rate ever recorded, federal data shows. The share who use a smart TV jumped too, from 23.3% to 32.8%. Meanwhile, “wearable devices” like fitness trackers, AI hearing aids or smart clothing are a growing trend among seniors. While just 10.8% used them in 2021, that’s more than double the rate four years earlier.

Spending on personal tech is way up, too: In 2021, Americans spent an average of $379 on tech devices relative to the older population, our analysis of federal data shows. And spending appears even higher among older adults in particular, with Americans age 50+ expecting to spend an average of $912 on tech purchases this year, a jump from $821 in 2021, according to the AARP.

Best and worst states

Our analysis found that Washington, D.C., has the country’s most tech-savvy seniors, given 36% of workers ages 60 and up work from home, local consumers spent an average of $703 on tech for every older person in the district, and just 9.1% of adults 65+ lack a computer at home.

California, Utah, Arizona and Washington round out the top five tech-savviest states. More than half of California’s Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth in the pandemic’s first year, while 87.6% of older adults have an internet subscription.