City thinking, local knowledge

Retirees embracing social, mobile and tablet

By Dina Patel

You’ve lived a full and rewarding life, settled down, had a family, and are now reaping the benefits of working hard and investing in your future. But has the world got smaller since back when you first began to make your mark? Now, through using social media on your tablet or smartphone, you can find that schoolfriend that emigrated halfway across the world or have a video chat with your grandchildren even though they live some distance away, or perhaps you use your smartphone or tablet to manage your portfolio while you are on the go.

Well, you are not alone. A recent report by Ofcom has found that there has been a significant growth in older people using technology, with four in ten people aged 65-74 using a smartphone and the use of tablets in the over-75s having nearly doubled.

So, that old school friend? Perhaps you managed to track them down via Facebook, as the report also shows nearly half of 65 to 74 year olds have a social media profile. But that’s not to say being plugged into cyberspace is all plain sailing.

Alison Preston, Head of Media Literacy at Ofcom, said: ‘The UK’s older generation is beginning to embrace smart technology and using it to keep in touch with family and friends. But some older people lack confidence online or struggle to navigate search results. Many are new to the internet so we’d encourage people to help older friends or family who need support getting connected.’

But this really, in the grand scheme of things, is a relatively minor issue when you consider how hard you have worked to be able to step back and enjoy time with close friends and family. Perhaps you have helped the next generation get a foothold on the property ladder or supported their education and career aspirations, so a bit of help navigating the digital world really isn’t much to ask! This is especially true given that Ofcom’s report also shows older users spend half as much time online than their younger counterparts, with over 65s averaging about 15 hours a week compared to 32 hours among 16-24 year olds. Maybe the key point is we all stay connected in an ever changing world, not just online but offline as well.

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