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Older people embracing smartphones and social media, says Ofcom

Wednesday, June 14th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A record number of older people are using smartphones and social media, Ofcom has revealed.

A report by the telecoms regulator shows that 39% of those aged 65 to 74 use a smartphone – almost double the number that did three years ago.

Smartphone use among over 75s has tripled to 15% since 2013 and tablet computers are even more popular - the number of over 75s using tablets has gone from 15% to 27% in just 12 months.

According to Ofcom’s research, 48% of internet users aged 65-74 have a social media profile while the number of over 75s with a profile has gone from 19% to 41% in a year.

The majority of what Ofcom dubs ‘social seniors’ opt for a Facebook account (87%), with WhatsApp (6%) and Instagram (1%) less popular.

Ofcom said that while older adults are more connected than ever, over 65s still spend less than half the time online as those aged 16 to 24 (15 hours compared to 32).

The report also points out that 56% of over 75s do not go online and that 86% of these have no plans to do so.

Ofcom also reports a lack of confidence among a number of older internet users.

'New to the internet'

A fifth (20%) of those aged over 65 describe themselves as ‘not confident’ online compared to 7% of the general population.

Around a fifth of internet users over 65 say they’re ‘not at all confident’ managing personal data and a less than half of those over 75 feel able to identify sponsored links in search results.

Alison Preston, head of media literacy at Ofcom, said: “The UK’s older generation is beginning to embrace smart technology, and using it to keep in touch with friends and family.

“But some older people lack confidence online, or struggle to navigate search results. Many are new to the internet, so we’d encourage people to help older friends or family who need support getting connected.

“People can find practical advice and information on the Ofcom website.”

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