Sunday 23 October 2016

The digital divide: half of over-60s have never used internet

Published 17/12/2015 | 02:30

A survey has revealed that half of Irish people over the age of 60 do not use the internet. Stock Image
A survey has revealed that half of Irish people over the age of 60 do not use the internet. Stock Image

Older people are being left behind in Ireland's digital world, new figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal.

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The research, which measured the responses of Irish households across the country, shows that half of Irish people over the age of 60 do not use the internet. Some 49pc of householders in this age bracket say they have "never" been online.

The figures paint a picture of a digital society divided more by age and economic status than by location.

Single adults living alone are among the next least likely of any Irish householder group to use the internet with just 60pc online.

And a third of these solitary dwellers have never used the internet, according to the CSO.

Households without anyone employed also use the internet less than average, with 63pc of occupants online and 35pc having never used the internet.

In all, the State figures claim that 17pc of Irish adults have never accessed the web.

But senior citizens that do go online appear to be making the most of it, with 44pc reading the news, 80pc using email to communicate, and half engaging in internet banking.

And a third of Ireland's silver surfers now use the internet for social media services such as Facebook, while 29pc make voice or video calls online.

The CSO figures represent a snapshot of online activity but do not include Irish online use within mobile apps, which now take up the majority of Irish internet activity.

They show that 85pc of Irish homes now have access to the internet. Of the 15pc left without it, 14pc say that they "do not need the internet" or that do not have the skills to operate it, with some saying it's too expensive for them to purchase.

Lack of availability is shrinking as a problem, according to the CSO, with just 0.8pc of Irish households saying that there is no broadband available in their locality.

However, householders in the West of Ireland recorded the highest probability of being without any broadband coverage. Homes in the west and in the south-east of the country are the least likely to use the internet, at just 79pc and 80pc respectively.

By contrast, Dubliners are the biggest regional internet users, with 90pc of the local population regularly online.

Households with children are among the heaviest internet users, the CSO says, with 97pc of homes with two adults and kids using the web.

Those most likely to buy newspapers, magazines or ebooks online are between the age of 30 and 44 (24pc) and live in Dublin (25pc).

According to the CSO figures, email remains the single most common type of activity used by Irish home internet users overall, with 84pc using it. The next most common activity is "social networking" at 66pc. The CSO does not say whether messaging services such as Whatsapp are part of this activity.

Two-thirds of respondents to the CSO's survey say that they conduct internet banking at home, while 53pc say that they use "services related to travel".

Irish Independent

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