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Old folk cut off from vital online services

More needs to be done to encourage older people online, says study...
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

More needs to be done to encourage older people online, says study...

Pensioners are being cut off from many critical online services and from other benefits offered by the internet because of a lack of education and a fear of using PCs.

More than half (56 per cent) of people aged over 65 have voluntarily excluded themselves from internet usage compared to the national average of 22 per cent, according to statistics from the Ofcom Consumer Panel (OCP).

But the OCP claims many of these older people would actually embrace the internet if given the right support and assistance.

A new in-depth study of people aged over 55 by the OCP has found that 'rejecters' - people who have made a conscious decision not to use the internet - are in the minority and most old people fall into the 'disengaged' category, citing reasons such as a fear of breaking the PC or worries about appearing foolish as preventing them from going online.

The report said: "The evidence suggests that there are a significant number of non-users who currently feel 'disengaged' from the modern world but given the appropriate support and assistance would overcome their concerns and fears and benefit from internet usage."

To engage with this audience, the OCP research says the learning environment needs to be specifically tailored towards the elderly, with free courses run by older people and with local mentors to help beginners.

Colette Bowe, chairman of the Ofcom Consumer Panel, said in a statement: "With more and more local and central government services online, as well as the best deals for commercial services, people who are not connected will find themselves increasingly excluded in today's world."

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