Is going digital isolating elderly people?
Non-digital alternatives for vital services and information need to continue to be made available to help more than five million adults in the UK without regular access to the internet, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has warned.
Although the number of adults defined as “internet non-users” has been steadily declining since 2011, 5.3 million in the UK have either never used the internet or have not used it in the last three months, according to an ONS survey last year.
Those aged 65 and over have consistently represented the biggest portion of adults not on the internet, making up 79% in total for 2018, while almost a quarter of internet non-users are also disabled (23.3%).
At a time when services are increasingly moving online, such as banking and billing, concerns have been raised about some people being digitally excluded, with missed opportunities for potential earnings and employability benefits, money savings when shopping, as well as the ability to communicate with friends and family.
“The internet undoubtedly brings many benefits, including helping us to make savings and keep in touch with loved ones,” said Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director.
“However, no-one should be locked out of services simply because they don’t use it. Those who cannot, or choose not to use digital technology should not be disadvantaged or made to feel like second-class citizens. It’s essential that there are alternatives so that the 4.2 million older people who aren’t online do not miss out.
“Age UK runs programmes to help people in later life gain the skills and confidence to use the internet, such as the One Digital project. We offer easy-to-follow training so that as many of us as possible can ultimately enjoy the advantages of being online.”
What do you think? Should more be done to encourage people online, or is it important to offer alternatives?
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