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Older people need 'more support' to get online

Wednesday, May 27th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

More than half of the adults who have never used the internet are 75 or older, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The Internet Users 2015 report found that 5.9m UK adults had never used the internet. 3m of these are aged 75 or over.

Only a third (33%) of adults aged 75 and over have used the internet in the past three months, compared to 99% of those aged 16 to 24.

The 75 and over age group also had the highest rate of ‘lapsed’ internet users – 6% had stopped going online in the past three months compared to just 0.3% of adults aged 16 to 24.

The proportion of adults aged 75 and over who had never used the internet decreased from 76% between April and June 2011 to 61% in the first three months of this year.

But, said the ONS, the high number of lapsed users suggests that while more adults aged 75 or older are using the internet, they are not necessarily continuing to do so.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, told Cable.co.uk she welcomed the increase in the percentage of older people using the internet.

But she warned: “There is still a long way to go, particularly for those aged 75+, 61% of whom have never been online.

'Keep in touch'

“Undoubtedly the internet offers a range of benefits and makes life easier for many people, helping people to make savings and keep in touch with loved ones.

“But as around 4.5m people aged 65 and over have never used the internet there is a need for more support to help get people online.”

She said it is also important that those who are not online are still able to access services and support in a way that suits them.

“While some older people are enthusiastic users of the internet, others tell us technology can be daunting and they are not quite sure how to use it or how to get online.

“We hear from some older people that fear of online fraud can raise concerns about using the internet, whilst others may not be initially interested in getting online.

“Age UK runs programmes to help people in later life gain the skills and confidence to use the internet which offer easy-to-follow training with the aim that as many of us as possible ultimately enjoy the advantages of getting online.”

The ONS report also revealed that half of the people who had stopped using the internet in the past three months are disabled.

Disabled people account for 48% of those who have not been online in the past three months, despite making up only 11% of the population.

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