The proportion of people aged 75 and over using the internet has nearly doubled in the last seven years, official data shows.
Figures compiled by the Office of National Statistics show that while there has been little change in internet use for adults aged 16 to 44, the number of older people going online has shot up from 29% in 2013 to 54% in 2020.
The information is based on figures from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) between January and March 2020 so it will not include changes due to the pandemic. However, it is expected that coronavirus has further increased internet use among older people as a lot of services moved online amid social distancing.
Jim Whelan, 79, said he had barely used his computer before the pandemic but a year on, he is much more knowledgable about the world wide web. “Although I had been online before the pandemic, it was just the occasional answering of emails. Now I’m a past master at all sorts of amazing things,” said Whelan, a former Coronation Street actor who before the pandemic used to travel around local community groups to give talks about his 50 years in the acting profession.
The ONS findings showed that more people than ever recently used the internet with an increase in use among all adults of 92% in 2020, up from 91% in 2019. Almost all adults aged 16 to 44 in the UK were recent internet users (99%), compared with 54% of adults aged 75 years and over.
The proportion of people who had never used the internet stood at 6.3% of adults in 2020, down from 7.5% in 2019.
The number of disabled adults who were recent internet users in 2020 reached almost 11 million, 81% of disabled adults; up from just over 10 million (78% of disabled adults) in 2019.
London continued to be the highest user of the internet, with 95% of people having gone online recently in 2020. The lowest region of use was Northern Ireland at 88%.