Skip to content
Please donate

North-south divide for older people's internet usage

Published on 17 September 2013 01:00 PM

Internet use amongst older people subject to sorth-south divide

 

New data from Age UK(i) reveals a north-south divide amongst older people when it comes to using the internet, with those aged 65 and over in the south of England generally more likely to be online compared to those in the north.

Older people in Tyne and Wear are the least likely in England to be online, where only 28% of people aged 65 and over report using the internet(ii). Meanwhile older people in Surrey are the most likely to be online, where 63% of people aged 65 and over report using the internet(iii).

The research, which comes at the start of the Charity's annual ITea and Biscuits Week, also reveals that there are only four areas in England where the percentage of older people online, outnumber those who are offline. This week Age UK is running ITea and Biscuits Week to enable people who have never been online to try out technology for themselves.

The top and bottom five areas for internet use amongst people aged 65 and over are below (for the full table please see the bottom of this release).

Bottom five areas for internet use amongst people aged 65 and over:

People 65+ offline People 65+ online
Tyne and Wear % within Area 72.3% 27.7%
West Yorkshire % within Area 70.3% 29.7%
Cumbria % within Area 69.8% 30.2%
South Yorkshire % within Area 68.7% 31.3%
Hull and East Riding % within Area 68.5% 31.5%

Top five areas for internet use amongst people aged 65 and over:

People 65+ offline People 65+ online
Surrey % within Area 37.0% 63.0%
Bedfordshire % within Area 46.2% 53.8%
Buckinghamshire % within Area 46.6% 53.4%
Suffolk % within Area 47.1% 52.9%
Oxfordshire % within Area 50.0% 50.0%

The research sends a clear message to the government, local authorities and businesses about internet use amongst older people, many of whom are increasingly focused on getting people to access their services online.

Commenting on the new findings, David Mortimer, Head of Digital Inclusion at Age UK, said: 'It is concerning that in some parts of the country, more than twice as many older people are able to access the benefits of being online than in other areas, particularly as there appears to be a north-south divide around internet use amongst older people.

'The reasons behind this divide are wide and varied. We know for example that women aged 75 and over who live alone are the most likely group in society to have never been online(iv). In addition, older people with lower economic wealth, those living alone and those in relatively worse health are far less likely to be online(v).

'We hope this data will highlight to the government, local authorities and businesses the work that needs to be done across the country to help older people to get online. More services from the private and public sectors are moving online in a bid to make significant cost savings. However if they want older people to use these services, they need to help them get online in the first place with tailored and on-going support.'

The internet can offer huge benefits to older people with recent research suggesting that those aged 65 and over online are nearly three times less likely to report being lonely than people who are offline(vi). Being online also allows people to make savings and pursue hobbies.

The Charity is this week encouraging older people who have never been online to attend a local ITea and Biscuits Week session and is calling on people who use technology to help an older person they know to get to grips with technology. To find an event or for more information visit the ITea and Biscuits Week page or call 0800 169 20 81.

As a founder partner of Go ON UK, Age UK is part of the Go ON North East campaign launching on 1 October, a programme of activity to support individuals, SMEs and charities in the North East of England to get connected.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors


Ref:MGSKSNDMCA

opens link in new windowFull table for internet usage amongst people aged 65 and over by region.pdf

Media contact: Andrew Walker
Tel: 020 3033 1433
Out of hours: 07071 243 243

Age UK Research used the latest social survey data from Understanding Society to measure local prevalence of digital exclusion by age. The dataset has a variable that captures frequency and history of internet use. Special license access to the dataset was granted in order to reveal local level prevalence of internet use amongst those aged 65 and over.

This study used data collected by Understanding Society, UK Household Longitudinal Study which is funded by the Economic Research Council and housed at the Institute for Social Economic Research at the University of Essex. For further information, please visit opens link in new windowthe Understanding Society homepage.

Age UK Digital Inclusion
Age UK runs ‘Connect with IT', a campaign to help older people get online and experience all the benefits that being confident online can offer in later life. The campaign includes Itea and Biscuits Week, Internet Champion of the Year and IT Volunteering. The Charity also works with local organisations across the country to deliver IT classes and support in the community as well as producing a range of literature about technology, including using it in care homes. In 2012 Age UK provided training, information and advice about technology to more than 200,000 people in later life.

Supporters of Age UK's Digital Inclusion work include Barclays who are working with the charity to pilot some technology taster sessions. The sessions will be held in conjunction with local Age UKs and Barclays' branches where older people will be able to chat with tech volunteers from Age UK along with Barclay's Digital Eagles, experts who are passionate about building customers' confidence online.

Age UK
For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.

We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to well over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we").  Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity). 

Go ON UK
Go ON UK is a cross-sector charity which was established in 2012 to encourage and support people, business and charities to enjoy the benefits of being online. Go ON UK has eight chief executives around its boardroom table - Age UK, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, E.ON, EE, Lloyds Banking Group, Post Office and TalkTalk. Together, Go ON UK's vision is to make the UK the world's most digitally skilled nation.

Go ON North East
Go ON UK is working with people and partners to kickstart its regional digital skills roll out in the North East of England from 1st October.  This is the first regional pathfinder being rolled out by Go ON UK and partners to help increase the Basic Online Skills of individuals, SMEs and charities. The Pathfinder will provide a platform for a sustainable digital skills programme in the North East and a replicable model for other UK regions to use to improve their digital skills. 

(i) Age UK Research used the latest social survey data from Understanding Society to measure local prevalence of digital exclusion by age. The dataset has a variable that captures frequency and history of internet use. Special license access to the dataset was granted in order to reveal local level prevalence of internet use amongst those aged 65 and over.
University of Essex. Institute for Social and Economic Research and National Centre for Social Research, Understanding Society: Waves 1-2, 2009-2011 [computer file]. 4th Edition. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive [distributor], December 2012. SN: 6614.
(ii)Ibid
(iii)Ibid
(iv)Ibid
(v)Ibid
(vi)opens link in new window English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, Wave 5 (2013)

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top