Generations have now grown up with the internet as a big part of their everyday life. The newest addition to the web is however an older generation â€“ the â€˜silver surfersâ€™ and grandparents, those over 65.
It is interesting to see in which direction the internet is going, as it is in constant change. A lot will and is going to change with a fast-growing elderly population getting online. According to a survey conducted by internet provider Plusnet, as many as two thirds of people over 65 say they â€˜couldn’t live without itâ€™, as they integrate internet usage into their daily lives quickly. The survey of 231 people over the age of 65 also shows that the most common ways of using the internet were to search for deals, shop and to research information (The Telegraph, 2013).
What are elderly peopleâ€™s habits online, compared to the younger generations? Many young people use the internet to share pictures and update their friends on everyday activity. The older generations might be using the online world in the exact same way, but some habits look a bit different.
Senior citizens getting online have created the need for digital health services. British seniors have said they are using the internet to self-tracking their health, according to research conducted by Accenture. Being online is now opening people to look at different aspects of their health, such as health indicators, and weight and blood pressure, writes Sophie Curtis (The Telegraph, 2014). About two thirds of the people asked said online appointment scheduling is one of the most important digital services. The same applies to electronic reminders, e-prescription refill requests and online access to health records.
When it comes to social media almost a third of the people over 75 said they regularly use Facebook. Chief executive at the internet charity Nominet Trust, Annika Small, said: â€œDigital technology can play a key role in creating strong networks for people in later life that will help reduce isolation and lonelinessâ€ (The Telegraph, 2012). She explained that it is critical to find ways to motivate seniors to get online by illustrating how the internet can both strengthen their social life and help them remain engaged and active.
Those over 65 are now a big group of web users, and many new websites adapted this age group are emerging. Martin Lock, founder and CEO of the website Silversurfers, says: â€œFor me, the internet offers profound benefits to everyone ranging from the ability to keep in touch with friends and family, meet new people, enjoy their views and add to the debate, plus providing a wealth of informationâ€ (Silversurfers, 2013). The website is a brand made for those over 50. Its goal is to put people in touch, provide them with information, discounts and offers tailored the generation.
The perks of being online are many, and we all use the internet differently. What stays the same is the need for people to stay in touch with each other and the ability to talk and feel part of something. This is more accessible and easier to do with the internet now than ever before, age does not matter when it comes to the curiosity we all have to explore the online world.
Silversurfers (2013) About Silversurfers [online]. Available here [Accessed 2 April 2014].
The Telegraph (2012) Getting pensioners online could solve elderly loneliness crisis [online]. Available here [Accessed 3 April 2014].
The Telegraph (2014) â€˜Silver surfersâ€™ demand digital health services [online]. Available here [Accessed 3 April 2014].
The Telegraph (2013) Lack of understanding keeps half of older people offline [online]. Available here [Accessed 1 April 2014].