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Nearly Half Of People Over 65 Still Feel Uncomfortable Using The Internet, Study Finds

A large percentage of older people who have reservations about going online feel forgotten in a ‘digital first’ world.

Nearly half of people over 65 are ‘uncomfortable’ using the internet and would rather do the weekly food shop, go to the bank and book a holiday with a travel agent in person.

A poll of 1,987 older people revealed that 45 percent don’t feel completely confident when using the internet. As a result, 40 percent of those would rather run errands face-to-face than online, as well as browse their local garden center, shop for clothes in stores and purchase train tickets at the station.

But this leaves them worried they are ‘missing out’ on all the internet has to offer and the money it could save them. It also emerged it’s not just financial concerns, as 42 percent of older people who have reservations about going online feel forgotten in a ‘digital first’ world.

The study was commissioned by Vodafone U.K. Foundation, which has teamed up with consumer champion Gloria Hunniford and national charity Independent Age to launch ‘Hi Digital’, which is a program designed to help the over 65s develop their digital skills, save money and feel more connected.

Pensioner Mary Devlin uses a laptop computer at home on November 1, 2007 in London, England.   A new poll of 1,987 older people revealed 45 percent don’t feel completely confident when using the internet. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

“At long last, I feel incredibly lucky I’m relatively comfortable online–but I absolutely understand older people’s concerns. There are so many benefits to taking the plunge–from making financial savings, which are so vital at the moment, to keeping in touch with loved ones and feeling less isolated”, Gloria Hunniford said.

The research found 34 percent of over 65s who aren’t completely comfortable in an online world are more likely to feel stressed when services require a digital approach, like booking a doctor’s appointment through a website. Of those who believe they’d benefit from learning online skills, 41 percent feel they’ve been held back from doing so because they didn’t know where to look for help.

And, according to the OnePoll study, even if they feel confident using the internet 27 percent still feel they’d gain something from upskilling their digital knowledge. It also emerged 54 percent of those who have expressed doubt about fully embracing the digital world said it was due to concerns about scamming and online security.

Others worry about not knowing how to fix something if it goes wrong (49 percent) and finding the pace at which the digital world changes too hard to keep up with (38 percent). Currently, only 26 percent feel very comfortable claiming benefits digitally, and just 45 percent could confidently book a doctor’s appointment or order a prescription online.

Nicki Lyons, U.K. corporate affairs and sustainability director at Vodafone U.K. Foundation, added: “Our everyone. Connected campaign is helping people access the connectivity, devices and skills they need to live life to the full.

“We understand why many older people aren’t comfortable online and wanted to create a program especially for them. We hope to reach 50,000 older people and give them the confidence to unlock financial savings and feel more connected to their loved ones.”

Simon Hewett-Avison, director of services at Independent Age, added: “Being online can come with many benefits, including potential savings which are never more needed than in the current cost-of-living crisis. But as technology continues to move at an ever-increasing pace, many people over 65 tell us they feel left behind. We’re working to ensure everyone has access to the support they need, in a way that works for them.”

Pensioner Mary Devlin uses a laptop computer on November 1, 2007 in London. A new poll of 1,987 older people revealed 45 percent don’t feel completely confident when using the internet. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Gloria Hunniford’s top tips for getting online:

1. They should be patient and take their time, without expecting to feel comfortable and good at it right away.

2. Get help from a person or a trusted organization if unsure how to get started.

3. Work through the helpful Hi Digital modules to get a good starting point to feeling more comfortable surfing the internet and keeping safe online.

4. Be aware of online scams and fraud, but don’t deter from exploring the benefits of being online.

5. If in doubt, shout it out–there are many trusted organizations out there with good people who can help with any concerns about online safety.

Produced in association with SWNS.

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