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Millions of over 55s missing out on benefits of the web

Millions of over 55s missing out on benefits of the web

It is Silver Surfers Day today (Friday 21 May) - the ninth annual day in the UK offering older people an introduction to computers and the Internet. Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of thinkbroadband.com, has outlined ways in which the older generations are being penalised for not having web access.

Thinkbroadband.com believes that older people could be missing out on services that are designed to make everyday tasks much easier, and they could also be using it to maintain vital relationships. Here are the top reasons why getting over the initial fear, could benefit millions of older people not currently using the Internet.

Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of thinkbroadband.com comments, "I understand that there is a lot of hesitation amongst the older generation about getting online, especially as they perhaps haven't felt the need for it in the past, but the Internet truly is for everyone and it is more accessible than ever before."

  • It could help to make bills cheaper: a lot of utility, travel, insurance companies and even supermarkets offer discounts if buying online. You can also use comparison sites to quickly and easily find the best deal on consumer goods
  • You can save money on postage: why send a letter when the email is free? It is also more instant and saves the trip down to the post box, making mobility-dependent tasks cheaper
  • It helps you to maintain vital relationships: if your family are online - why shouldn't you be too? You can keep in touch with your grandchildren via email or even make a video call to them on Skype, all for free once you're online!
  • Reconnect with long lost friends through social networking sites like friendsreunited.co.uk and facebook.com
  • It is available 24/7 and provides hours of entertainment. You can watch repeats of your favourite television programmes, learn new hobbies or learn about new places, you can even read the news on the Internet
  • It provides more independence in terms of finding out what is on in your area and finding out about government services.

It also reduces the need for dependence on family and friends for things like bill-paying or meeting new people Lahtinen continues, "To be honest, the Internet could benefit the older generation more than any other group of people. One of the main complaints as people get older is losing independence and the Internet is definitely a driver to prevent this. Once initial concerns about the safety and security of the Internet are dealt with, there is nothing stopping the estimated 9.2 million over-55s without an internet connection becoming "silver surfers"."

Meanwhile, Dame Vera, aged 93, is encouraging older people to participate in Silver Surfers' Day on Friday 21 May, when more than 1,500 free events will be held across the UK.

'My aim is to spread the simplicity and ease of listening to and downloading music on the Internet. It isn't just new music on the Internet, it also contains the entire history of recorded music just waiting to be heard' said Dame Vera.

In libraries, online centres, community rooms, schools and other accessible venues, older people will have a chance to learn basic computing skills and how to use the Internet.

Tracks from Dame Vera's latest album 'Unforgettable' can be heard, free emails sent, a health and wellbeing quiz game played; there's even an opportunity to order a home-delivered meal - all online.

Silver Surfers' Day was created by Digital Unite in 2002 and has grown every year since. This year it is part of Adult Learners' Week (15-21 May).

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