New research in the UK by digital charity Good Things Foundation in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, has identified an urgent need for new approaches to helping people in later life get online. The research urges government, as well as companies and organisations, to ensure that the most vulnerable are not locked out of essential services and benefits as technology continues to evolve and more and more services become ‘digital by default’.
The research highlights a need for a fundamental re-think of digital inclusion policy and practice for people in later life. There are now more people online in later life than ever before. Over the last several years, the proportion of older people using the internet has risen considerably faster than for the general population.
Despite recent rapid increases, there are still 4.8 million people over the age of 55 who are not online, making up 91% of the population who are not online (5.3 million people). These people – who are already likely to be poorer, less well educated and in worse health than their peers – are at risk of being left on the wrong side of the digital divide, as more services and information move online.
People in later life stand to benefit hugely from being online
It has the potential to improve health and wellbeing, save money and keep in touch with family and friends. However, there remains a core of people in later life who are not online and have no intention of getting online. When asked what would prompt them to go online, 74% of people over the age of 65 responded ‘nothing’.
In 2017 Ageing Better funded Good Things Foundation to conduct research to understand what enables and prevents people in later life from getting online – focusing specifically on people in later life who have never used the internet, those who used to but have now stopped or those who have limited usage.
This report sets out the key insights from the research and Ageing Better’s view on their implications for policymakers, funders, digital inclusion support providers and service providers.