Nearly half of over 65s are ‘uncomfortable’ using the internet – and would rather do the weekly food shop, pop to the bank and book a holiday with a travel agent in-person.
A poll of 1,987 adults aged 65 and over revealed 45 per cent don’t feel completely confident when using the internet.
As a result, 40 per cent of those would rather run errands face-to-face than online, as well as browse their local garden centre, shop for clothes in store 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 per cent of older people who have reservations about going online feel forgotten in a ‘digital first’ world.
Digital approach can make some people uncomfortable
The study was commissioned by Vodafone UK Foundation, which has teamed up with consumer champion, Gloria Hunniford, and national charity, Independent Age, to launch ‘Hi Digital’ – a programme designed to help the over 65s develop their digital skills, save money and feel more connected.
Gloria Hunniford commented: “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.”
The research found 34 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent still feel they’d gain something from upskilling their digital knowledge.
50,000 older people could grow in online confidence
It also emerged 54 per cent 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 per cent) and finding the pace at which the digital world changes too hard to keep up with (38 per cent).
Currently, only 26 per cent feel very comfortable claiming benefits digitally, and just 45 per cent could confidently book a doctor’s appointment or order a prescription online.
Nicki Lyons, UK corporate affairs and sustainability director at Vodafone UK 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 programme 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.”
Gloria Hunniford’s top 5 tips for getting online
Be patient and take your time: don’t expect to feel comfortable and good at it right away.
Get help from a person or organisation you trust if you’re unsure how to get started.
Work through the helpful Hi Digital modules to give you a good starting point to feeling more comfortable surfing the internet and keeping safe online.
Be aware of online scams and fraud, but don’t let this deter you exploring the benefits of being online.
If in doubt, shout it out – there are many trusted organisations out there with good people who can help you if you have any concerns about your online safety.