DWP targets silver surfers with social networking site

The Department for Work and Pensions has unveiled a social networking website to encourage direct communication with the government and debate among older people about the issues that matter to them. The pilot scheme at generationxperience.wordpress.com has been developed in conjunction with the Hansard Society as part of DWP's Generation Xperience campaign, which earlier this month staged the first UK Older People's Day. Representatives from DWP will regularly update the website, start new discussions and contribute to existing ones as well as moderating the site. The site will also link to other well-known social networking sites including MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. The initiative follows recent research for DWP's Generation Xperience campaign, which revealed the popularity of the internet among older people. More than half of all over-50s have access to the internet, rising to three quarters (76%) of 50- to 64-year-olds. Nearly one in six of those in the 50-64 age bracket have conquered instant messaging, social networking sites and internet chatrooms (15%), while emailing is becoming the norm (37%). More than half (56%) of respondents say they have set themselves the goal of ‘learning computer skills’ as they approach later life. Mike O'Brien, Pensions Minister, said: "There are 20m people over the age of 50 in the UK who have helped build a prosperous economy, a strong society and a better country. It is crucial their views must be taken into consideration. "With this pilot scheme, we’re using a method of communication that is becoming increasingly commonplace for this age group. As many of the popular social networking sites are oriented towards young internet users, this is an effective way of talking to and listening to older people in the UK and has great potential to reduce isolation and promote digital inclusion." The Generation Xperience UK Older People's Day initiative is supported by the DWP and the Department of Health in conjunction with a range of other government departments and agencies. Other partners include the Financial Services Authority, Help the Aged, Age Concern, LinkAge Plus Pilots, Better Government for Older People, The International Longevity Centre, B&Q, CSV RSVP and the Beth Johnson Foundation. No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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