There is a useful and insightful article in the Telegraph today that addresses the issues of getting older people online, and why it matters. It draws extensively from the thinking of Tony Watts, editor of Mature Times, and his reading of OII research — the Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS). There is also a piece in the online news, see Yahoo! entitled ‘Digital Divide ‘isolates elderly’. And even more coverage. See’10 million over 50s on the wrong side of the digital divide‘ and ‘older people digitally isolated‘.
I think the typology of older users has a great deal of face validity. The piece argues that older people will be increasingly isolated if they are not online. OxIS does find that those who are not online feel more lonely than do Internet users, a relationship we are trying to better understand. However, the flip side seems very clear. The Internet could be used by older people to keep in contact with their family, friends and the world and this opportunity is missed by most.