- New study reveals over 65’s could be missing out on the UK’s best deals, goods and services if they are reluctant to go online.
- Vodafone Foundation and Independent Age offer new Hi Digital platform to help over 65’s gain digital skills, save money, and feel more connected.
- Consumer champion Gloria Hunniford gives top tips for the older generation to get online.
People in later life who have reservations about using the internet could be losing almost £1,000 a year by not being computer savvy, according to a new study released today.
With nearly half (45%) of over 65s admitting they don’t feel completely comfortable going online, and the cost-of-living crisis set to deepen this autumn, new research by Vodafone UK Foundation suggests many older people could face a further squeeze on their living standards due to concerns about using the internet to shop around for the best deals or pay for goods and services.
Over 65s who are not fully at ease using the internet could be forking out on average an extra £97 on clothes, £158 on entertainment services, £184 on travel and missing out on £156 of state entitlements - adding up to a potential loss of £909 per person each year.
Importantly, the implications aren’t solely financial. The research also highlighted that two-fifths (38%) of older people who have reservations about going online feel forgotten when ‘digital first’ is the default option while 34% are more likely to feel stressed when services require an online action, such as booking a doctor’s appointment via a website.
Of those who’d benefit from learning online skills, two-fifths (41%) in this group felt they’d been prevented from improving their digital skills because they didn’t know where to look for help. And of those who already felt very comfortable online, more than a quarter (27%) said they would benefit from learning new digital skills.
Consumer champion Gloria Hunniford has teamed up with Vodafone UK Foundation and national charity Independent Age to launch Hi Digital, a programme designed to help the over 65s develop their digital skills, save money and feel more connected.
Hi Digital is a free online resource that offers step-by-step advice on digital essentials such as using a search engine, online shopping, accessing news and keeping in touch with family and friends.
Working with Vodafone UK Foundation, Independent Age will be promoting the platform to people over 65 and their friends and families, linking to the platform via their own website and working with their teams and volunteers on the ground in communities to help expand the reach of Hi Digital, in order to help 50,000 older people improve their digital skills in the next year. To find out more see here.
Gloria Hunniford, TV broadcaster, said, “At long last, I’m relatively comfortable online – but I absolutely understand older people’s concerns. There are so many benefits to taking the plunge – from making financial savings, which are so vital at the moment, to keeping in touch with loved ones and feeling less isolated. I’m delighted that Vodafone UK Foundation has created this learning programme, especially to help build up older people’s digital confidence. I urge everyone to take a look – maybe you could use it to help a friend, neighbour or an older person in your community.”
Other key findings from the study show that half (54%) of those who expressed some doubts about fully embracing the digital world said this was due to concern about scams and online security; not knowing how to fix something if it goes wrong (49%); and finding the pace at which the digital world changes too hard to keep up with (38%).
Traditional chores for over 65s could be revolutionised through the internet; however currently only a quarter (26%) feel very comfortable claiming benefits digitally and less than a half (45%) say they are very comfortable booking a doctor’s appointment or ordering a prescription online.
Nicki Lyons, UK Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director, Vodafone UK said: “Our everyone.connected campaign is helping people access the connectivity, devices and skills they need to live life to the full. We understand why many older people aren’t comfortable online and wanted to create a programme especially for them. Through Hi Digital – and our partnership with Independent Age – we hope to reach 50,000 older people and give them the confidence to unlock financial savings and feel more connected to their loved ones. If you know someone who might benefit from the programme, please search Vodafone everyone connected to find out more.”
Simon Hewett-Avison, Director of Services at Independent Age, said: “Being online can come with many benefits, including potential savings which are never more needed than in the current cost-of-living crisis. But as technology continues to move at an ever-increasing pace, many people over 65 tell us they feel left behind.We’re working to ensure everyone has access to the support they need, in a way that works for them. Hi Digital can boost the confidence of those who do want to get online.”
Vicky Parry, Consumer Expert from MoneyMagpie, said: “With energy and food prices rising, more support and time is needed to help the older generation feel comfortable online and so access financial savings. We’re delighted that Vodafone UK Foundation has launched Hi Digital to help older people develop confidence in surfing the net and so potentially save money on energy, travel and entertainment.”
Gloria’s Top Tips for getting online:
- Be patient and take your time: don’t expect to feel comfortable and good at it right away. Perhaps it may take a few sessions to get used to being online.
- Get help from a person or organisation you trust: the internet is a great way of staying connected to loved ones and accessing financial savings, but if you’re unsure how to get started, charity Independent Age can help.
- Work through the Hi Digital modules from Vodafone UK Foundation: to give you a good starting point to feeling more comfortable surfing the internet and keeping safe online, start by working through the helpful Hi Digital modules from Vodafone UK Foundation
- Be aware of online scams and fraud: especially as they become increasingly sophisticated. Be wary of opening emails from senders you don’t recognise or browsing websites that don’t have a padlock symbol in the URL bar – but don’t let this deter you exploring the benefits of being online.
- If in doubt, shout it out: the internet is a fantastic place but it’s important to take steps to ensure you’re protected! If you have any concerns about your online safety, talk to a loved one or report a scam to Action Fraud. There are many trusted organisations out there with good people who can help you.
Hi Digital complements Vodafone’s everyone connected campaign to tackle digital exclusion. It is working with charity partners, customers, and employees to provide free mobile connectivity to 1 million people by the end of 2022 and recently announced it has reached the 500,000 milestone.