Ageing and the use of the internet
Over the past five years the number of people online, aged 65 and over, has remained relatively static, with between 25% and 35% using the internet (Oxford Internet Institute Survey 2011). As new online services become available and more benefits of being digitally connected are highlighted, this figure presents a real challenge to those working with this demographic group as there seems to be little impact aggregated to a national scale.
Yet the over-65 population describes a diverse group. There can be up to 40 years’ life experience between those in early old age and those in late old age; it can describe people in good health and poor health; those who are physically or socially isolated or those living with, or supported by families. As such, a diverse range of approaches need to be put in place if we are to support them to benefit from using the internet. Similarly, when the online/offline figure is broken down into smaller age groups or correlated with other socio-economic characteristics (such as housing status, educational attainment, income levels etc) a clearer picture of internet use and the mechanisms of support for novice and advanced users becomes apparent.
This publication sets out the latest research into how the internet is, and can be, used to support those over 65 as well as highlighting the mechanisms, themes and social situations that best enable this group to benefit from the internet. By doing so, it sets out a number of ways in which we can look to develop new approaches to supporting people over the age of 65 to get online in a sustained and meaningful way.