Older people would use internet if they were assisted

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Older people would use internet if they were assisted

Ofcom says two thirds of pensioners would go online given the opportunity.

Older people who miss out on critical online services because they do not use the internet would get connected if they had back-up research reveals.

Two-thirds of older people who initially rejected using the internet said they would change their behaviour if they had the right support, assistance and learning environment the Ofcom Consumer Panel’s ‘older people and communications technology' research shows.

Courses designed for and run by older people, together with mentoring schemes would encourage them to get connected, reveals the Panel which was established to advise Ofcom and other bodies on the consumer interest in the market it regulates.

Colette Bowe, Ofcom Consumer Panel Chairman, said: "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."

Figures from the Consumer Panel’s 2006 market survey reveal that as many as 60 per cent of people over 65 don’t understand the term broadband, and over half shun internet access because they see no benefit in being online.

With an increasingly ageing population, the Panel is concerned these people will be cut off from a variety of online services.

"We want the government’s digital strategy to use the lessons learnt by organisations that are already helping older people to go online," Bowe said.

"The UK government has just committed to halve the gap in internet usage by 2010 for groups at risk of exclusion such as older people. The Panel will work closely with the relevant government departments to achieve this aim in the UK."

Older people’s attitudes were identified as key determinants of whether or not they would embrace the internet.

They fell into groups, including ‘absorbers’ who learnt to use computers at work and are now part of the digital age, ‘self-starters’ who had no training at work, but who demonstrated that age, income, location and health were not barriers to take-up,

‘non-users’ afraid of the unknown or appearing foolish and the ‘disengaged’ who show an unexpected interest in going online.

The minority, the ‘rejecters’, saw no benefit in using the internet.

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