Kids key to closing the digital divide

BT wants the younger generation to encourage their technology-fearing elders to embrace technology and the Web, so closing the digital divide and boosting e-commerce in the UK

BT is attempting to use the nation's youth to increase Internet use and close the digital divide.

The telco announced on Wednesday that it has started a campaign to encourage children to get their families onto the Web. The initiative, called Internet Rangers, gives advice and encouragement on how to get parents and grandparents to swallow the Net bug.

According to BT, nearly 40 percent of adults are forced to rely on their children to help them cope with the online world, while 27 percent feel their lack of IT skills means they are out of touch with the modern world. With an estimated 39 percent of people saying they want to learn more about computers and the Web, BT is hoping that Internet Rangers can increase access to technology across Britain.

The digital divide is still a major problem for the UK, according to research published earlier this month that found Internet access often only begins at home if you're well paid.

Nearly 90 percent of families in London with children and annual household income of £52,000 or more have the Internet at home, compared to just 20 percent of married couples with an income of below £10,444.

An increase in Britain's online population would give a boost to firms that have integrated e-commerce into their operations. It would also be good news for telcos such as BT, who would see a rise in their revenues from Internet access products and data services.