Embracing Digital Life A recent report by media regulator Ofcom found the number of people over 65 years old accessing the internet has jumped by almost a quarter to 52% in one year, fuelled largely by the increasing popularity of tablet computers. The increase in internet use in the over 65s is particularly significant as many in this age group have neither used computers nor accessed the internet during their working lives. 17% of people over 65 now use a tablet to access the internet, and 17% of the same age group use a smartphone. It’s certainly true that such devices are intuitive and easy to use, so could this be what’s influencing the older generation to get surfing? Convenient ‘I have a computer upstairs, but don’t really use it. A tablet is so convenient and easy to use, and I can take it about anywhere,’ commented Edna, who is a member and volunteer at The Bradbury in Kingston. Edna, 84, has been using her tablet for about two years. She wanted it to keep in touch with her son who lives overseas, but has found she’s increased contact with all her family and friends as a result, using email, Facebook and Skype. Friendship Last year nearly 70% of the over 65s accessing the internet were doing so to contact people by email, and 28% had a social media profile. For those who are unable to get out or don’t have any family or friends nearby, internet contact can help us keep in touch, bringing the warmth of friendship and family virtually into our homes, staving off the effects of isolation and loneliness. The way seniors are embracing digital life is sure to influence businesses across the country. More people are now researching their products and services, looking for the best prices and delivery options. But it’s not just about choice and bargain hunting. Accessing all kinds of services, from utilities to health and care, is increasingly moving on line, and although the figures are encouraging, it remains a fact that daily computer use is far less for the 65+ age group and research clearly demonstrates that older people have a preference for face-to-face communication when accessing information and advice. Getting started One of Edna’s son’s helped her to get started with her tablet, but not everyone has someone on hand. Entering an Apple shop can feel a little bewildering to anyone over the age of 30, so where can you learn? Staywell runs various computer skills training courses from its centres. For details of forthcoming courses contact The Bradbury on 020 8549 1230 or Raleigh House on 020 8942 8256.