Five reasons why seniors do not use the internet

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Our society increasingly assumes that everyone uses the internet. It is true that seniors are catching up, but more than a third (35%) of people over 75 do not use the Internet and are in danger of falling by the wayside. KBO-PCOB, the largest senior organization in the Netherlands, decided to ask this group - via a paper survey - why they did not use the internet and was overwhelmed with reactions.

The internet research of KBO-PCOB released a lot among the digital illiterate seniors. Nearly a thousand completed paper survey forms came back, along with stacks of handwritten notes and letters on the topic of what it's like to not use the internet in this day and age. KBO-PCOB also interviewed seniors who are using the internet and it turned out that they sometimes are less computer savvy then previously thought. A total of 2,780 older people participated in the study. The research revealed a number of reasons why seniors say 'no' to the internet.

Too difficult

Almost four out of ten seniors without internet do not use it because they find it too difficult to use. Many people think they are incapable of using it because, for example, they have only attended primary school. But also higher educated people have problems with it. One respondent says: 'As an academic and an individual with a disability benefit (63 years) I am in a chronic state of despair and impotence, because I have no control over social life. 'Of the seniors who are online, no less than three-quarters expect that the internet will become increasingly difficult for them in the future. Old age and physical condition play a role in this.

Too old

One in ten senior citizens without internet says that he or she is too old to use the internet. This mainly concerns people aged 80 or older. A response: 'My husband arranged everything on the computer, but he has died. Now my son and daughter-in-law are doing the most important things. I would prefer to do that myself, but with my age of 80 years that is not easy. '

With online seniors internet skills decrease with the years. Sixty-year-olds self report their own internet skills as a 9 out of 10, but at 75 years they have dropped to 5 out of 10. Reasons: the service becomes too difficult (43%), health problems (20%), and because there is no one left help them (10%).

Physical condition

7% of computer illiterate seniors say they can not access the internet due to their condition, for example poor vision and more challenging hand-eye coordination. Of the online seniors who think that they will no longer be able to use the internet in the future, almost three out of ten expected that this is due to health and physical problems.

Internet not a necessity

Nearly three out of digital illiterate seniors do not need the internet because they can arrange everything via telephone and paper. If these possibilities disappear, they and almost all other non-internet users will inevitably run into problems. For now, most people prefer life without internet. As someone writes: "They sit all day with a crooked back behind the computer. When I go shopping, I always make a chat. I cycle a lot every day and enjoy myself well. "

A lack of trust

More than one in ten digital illiterate seniors say they avoid the internet because they do not trust it. One respondent: 'You hear about those strange things. I want to, but I do not dare. If I press a wrong button, I panic and do not know what I am doing. Now the neighbor boy does my taxes. "

The fear of internet crime also plays a role with online seniors. 3% of seniors have been victims of purchase and / or sales fraud via internet. Another 3% of seniors have been victims of hacking

Deployment of Tablet coaches

KBO-PCOB sees clear advantages of digital solutions. Vanderkaa: 'With our voluntary tablet coaches, we explain to seniors and teach them what the digital world can offer: relaxation, contact and convenience. From social media to tax returns, from travel planner to e-health applications. In addition to that, we strive to engage users in the development of digital solutions. '

offline alternative for online services remains a necessity

Alternatives to digital solutions, however, remain necessary, says KBO-PCOB. Of the 440,000 seniors who are currently not online, more than 320,000 people say that they will never use the internet. 99% of them think that the government and business community should continue to offer offline alternatives for those who can not use online services. The majority of digitally skilled elderly people endorse this. Many of them expect internet use to become a problem for themselves in the future.

Source: KBO-PCOB press release


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