More people over the age of 55 use the internet now than people under 25, according to the latest research report from the British Population Survey.
Even Bill Gates, who conceived the equipment we use, and Tim Berners-Lee, who conceived the Internet itself, are both now 55 and ‘Silver Surfers’ themselves.
The under 25’s, the ‘iLifer’ generation who have never experienced life without the internet, are driving some of the newer uses of the Internet such as online gaming, music & movie downloading, and social networking (which itself grew by over 250% in the last two years).
But it is the older ages that dominate Search and Shopping, with 3 over 55’s shopping online for every 2 under 25’s.
8 out of every 10 people now have the internet, the same proportion of the population that have landline telephones. Access grew faster in 2010, up by 2.75 million, than in 2009 which was over 100,000 less new users.
The fastest growing group of all is actually the over 65 age group, now representing over 1 in 10 British users. Yet even with this growth, the lower social grades and income groups are twice as likely not to have the internet than any other group.
Commenting on the latest findings at the publication of their latest report, Mike Hare, Research Director, said “Our latest figures are starting to reveal distinct differences in attitude to the internet between the generations. While the Silver Surfers tend towards the more practical and economic benefits, iLifers regard the internet as a source of entertainment and social activity.
But this difference in attitude has implications for the Marketing Industry, which should take note that even though Silver Surfers are more likely to shop online, they are 70% more likely to find internet advertising unacceptable”.
The new results show that out of every 10 people, aged 15 and over, in the country :
9 have a mobile phone
8 have internet access
8 have a landline telephone
7 use email
6 have a laptop or netbook computer
5 shop online
4 use social networks and blogs
4 use online banking
4 have a games console
3 have an MP3 player
2 download music
2 watch TV online
1 buys groceries online
0 (or very near 0) admit to using online dating!
“But from the Digital Britain perspective” Mike Hare continued, “it should be a cause for thought that we may be in danger of creating a regressive state.
We need to think carefully about the fact that we have over 10 million people, or 1 in 5 of our population, without internet access, and that out of those, three quarters have only GCSEs or NVQ 1 or no qualifications, 40% of them are in the D and E social grades, 70% are over 55 and 70% live in the North and Midlands.
Perhaps it is time to start regarding truly national Internet Access as a measure of a progressive society as much at home as we do in other countries. Or is www.number10.gov.uk purely intended for the better educated, the young, the prosperous, and southerners? ”.
The report referred to, published today, is The Internet – Engagement and Use in Britain – December 2010 which includes special sections on Internet Advertising and Email Marketing, and Online Shopping. Details of the report, and a free extract, can be obtained from www.thebps.co.uk/reports