Internet Access

Internet Access.  Most older people have access to the internet at home

OrangePeopleNetwork

ICC had a strong interest in the digital media use of older people.  With the internet becoming a central part of our lives there is a danger that some sectors of the population will be excluded because of barriers to use leading to a new form of inequality – ‘the digital divide’.

Overall, the great majority (88%) of older people in this study have access to the internet from home.   Of those working, 66% were using the internet at work. A relatively small proportion (11%) used the internet from somewhere like a library or café.

Home internet access was lower for the older group, with 93% of 60-64 year olds with access dropping to 79% of 75-79 year olds. The proportion saying they had somebody help them “use the internet” was 13% for those below 65 and 29% for 75-79 year olds.

Email was by far the most common use with half (51%) using it twice a week or more.  Thirteen percent used the computer to find event information at least twice a week, and online shopping occurred the least frequently (11% used it twice a week or more).  There was little difference across the age groups; all showed a slight drop in frequency of use with increasing age, with email use and online shopping use dropping by around 10% between 60 and 79 years of age.

Generally everybody (around 80%) agreed that the internet made it easier to reach or stay in touch with people, helped them to “feel more connected to friends and family/whānau” (64%), and increased how often they communicated with others (61%).  Less than half (43%) agreed that the internet made them feel less isolated and only 16% agreed that the internet made it easier to meet new people.

There were a few interesting differences between those below and above 65.  Those who were older were slightly less likely to agree that the internet made it easier to reach people, contributed to keeping in touch, increased how often they communicated, and felt more connected. However, the proportion of those who agreed that the internet made them feel less isolated and made it easier to meet new people increased with age.

These results suggest that the internet and its uses, especially email, are well accepted but there are some barriers to full access.  The oldest age group are more likely to see the internet as reducing isolation and enabling connections. However, these uses are currently low.  Older people’s use could grow with more targeted assistance.

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