Despite more people getting online, and the proportion of people never having been online declining, digital exclusion in later life is not a problem that is going to disappear. This presentation of research carried out for Centre for Ageing Better by Good Things Foundation in the UK, offers insights for how we might work better to tackle digital exclusion in later life.
There are now more people online in later life than ever before. And the proportion of older people using the internet has risen rapidly; In the United Kingdom, in 2017, more than twice as many people over 75 used the internet as in 2011 (ONS, 2017).
Yet despite these increases, 4.4 million people over the age of 55 have never been online. Over 55s make up 92% of the total population who have never been online (4.8 million people) (ONS, 2017). A further 764,000 over the age of 55 used to be online, but no longer are (ONS, 2017).
These are already likely to be poorer, less well educated and in worse health than their peers – and are now at risk of being left on the wrong side of the digital divide. As more aspects of life become digitised and technology continues to develop, the meaning of ‘digital inclusion’ needs to shift. If we are to tackle inequalities, it will need to be less about whether people are online or not, and more about how being online helps to support people to access what is needed to live a good later life