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Older internet users as competent as younger ones

Published on 20 September 2011 10:00 AM

Older internet users just as competent as younger ones, says Age UK during itea and biscuits week

June Whitfield and Shaun Wright-Phillips back call for people of all ages to help older people get online

Older people (65 and over) are challenging youngsters when it comes to using technology like the Internet, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The data - revealed during Age UK's itea and biscuits week (19-25 September) - shows a higher proportion of older Internet users (63%) compared to any other age group choose to download computer software such as video games, rather than relying on postal delivery(1). In addition, over a third (34%) have downloaded music and films, just shy of people aged 16-24 (42%)(2).

Nearly four out of five (78%) older Internet users surf the web to find out information about goods and services, over half (55%) use travel and accommodation websites and nearly one in five use social networking like Facebook and Twitter(3).

However, with older Internet users taking advantage of the array of benefits that the web has to offer, the gap between those older people who are offline and those who are online is growing. Age UK is running itea and biscuits week to give people in later life the chance to use technology like the Internet and digital cameras, often for the first time. The charity is aiming to help some of the 5.7 million plus people aged 65 and over who have never been online to start using technology. As well as encouraging people to attend training classes the charity is calling on anyone who knows how to use technology to become a Digital Champion and help share their knowledge with an older person in their life. This comes as recent stats from Ofcom show that over half of older people prefer to learn about digital technology from friends and family(4).

‘Absolutely Fabulous' actress June Whitfield is pledging to develop her knowledge of the internet during itea and biscuits week and then help others get online during the BBC and Race Online 2012 Give an Hour campaign in October.

Age UK has set June this challenge in order to help encourage people of all ages to pass on their knowledge of technology to older people. June said: 'The internet is really important to modern life, so I think it's vital that people embrace it. Although I have been online, I still consider myself to be a novice so I'm really looking forward to learning more about the internet and developing my skills. Age UK has set me a challenge to show other people what I have learned and I'm confident I can pass on my knowledge and help others to get online!'

Footballer Shaun Wright-Phillips, who is also supporting Age UK's call for people to pass on their knowledge of technology to older people, said: 'I love technology and don't know what I'd do without the internet or gadgets like my smart phone and MP3 player. Millions of older people are not online and miss out on the benefits of technology, like being able to use the internet to keep in touch with family and mates. So go on, help set your Nan up with an email address or get your older neighbour playing FIFA during Age UK's itea and biscuits week!'

Helena Herklots, Services Director at Age UK, said: 'We know that when people are online they are extremely active, in fact research shows that older people who are online spend more time surfing the web than other generations(5). Therefore if you know how to use a computer, mobile phone or digital camera, why not teach an older person you know? It could make a huge difference to their life.'

Martha Lane Fox, UK Digital Champion, said: 'It's impossible to imagine life without the internet for anyone who uses it regularly. I firmly believe you are never too old to get started with the web - in fact it's older people who have the most to benefit from being online. The internet is a vital tool to help reduce isolation and ensure people stay independent for longer'.

itea and biscuits week is part of Connect with IT, a comprehensive digital inclusion campaign managed by Age UK involving myfriends online week, Internet Champion of the Year competition and IT Volunteering.

For information on getting online or for events in your area call 0800 169 65 65 or visit


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

Notes to Editors: 

itea and biscuits week

For more information about itea and biscuits or any of our Connect with IT projects call Age UK on 0800 169 65 65 or visit

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 five million people; commercial products and services to 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). 1. ONS Internet Access - Households and Individuals, 2011 2. ibid 3. Ibid 4. Ofcom report: Adult Media Literacy, 2011 5. The Communications Market 2008, Ofcom 2008

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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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