Older people can't live without internet

Internet access is improving life for Britain's older people and almost half can't imagine living without it.

Older people can't imagine living without the internet, according to new research.

An online poll by charity Age UK found 78% of over-55s who use the internet believe their lives have improved by being online.

Nearly a quarter said they feel closer to friends and family because of the internet and 42% claimed they now can't imagine life without it.

David Mortimer, head of digital inclusion at Age UK, said: "The internet can make a huge difference to people's lives.

"Whether it's making savings, keeping in touch with family or looking up new hobbies, for a growing number of older people the internet is an essential tool for daily living."

The findings came as Age UK announced James Perry, 92, and Janet Tchamani, 55, as the charity's joint Internet Champions of the Year for 2013.

Both are among the growing number of older people who regularly use the internet and will now be tasked with helping to encourage some of the 5.2 million British over-55s who have never been online to give the web a try.

The champions were selected by a panel of industry experts, including writer, actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry.

He said: "Like millions of others, I simple can't imagine a life without the convenience and wonder of the internet. Yet over five million older people have never been online.

"I was delighted to help choose Age UK's Internet Champions for 2013 and wish them all the best in inspiring more people to the ways of the web."

Separate research by broadband provider Plusnet has shown that 41% of over-65s now use Facebook, with 16% checking their social networking profile at least once a day.

Plusnet's survey also revealed that, of the over-65s who don't use the internet, over 40% blame their lack of understanding or a shortage of suitable training in their area, while 37% say it is due to the cost issues.

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