A New Day Yesterday – Part Eighteen
July 25, 2016
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I came across a review of this blog the other day on what I believe to be a respected blog directory called Blog Search Engine. I read it and the more I thought about it the more astonished I became at its patronising tone. It ran “the internet has indeed made amazing achievements when it comes to communication. With this technology, it is now possible for people including the senior citizens to share their thoughts and personal experiences through blogs and reach people around the world. An example is Window Through Time, a personal blog of a senior and retired male…”
The implicit assumption is that the internet and bloggery are the domain of the young. We should be amazed that the older generations have discovered it and that they may have something they thing worth sharing with the wider world. It is incredible to think that those with silver streaks in their hair are able to manoeuvre their arthritic digits sufficiently to tap out a semi-literate message on to their key board. And there is just enough energy left in their failing grey cells to dredge up memories and to formulate thoughts. Aren’t old people amazing?
Two questions then – is internet usage a young person’s thing and when do people start being considered as old? The Office of National Statistics in the UK publishes a useful quarterly bulletin on internet usage. In their latest bulletin they claim that 98.8% of those aged between 16 and 44 had used the internet recently, 94.9% of those aged 45 to 54, 88.3% of those aged 55 to 64, 74.1% of those aged 65 to 74 and 38.7% of those aged 75 and over. So yes, empirically internet usage does seem to be a younger person’s pursuit.
But drilling down into the detail we find some interesting facts. The proportion of those aged 75 or over who have never used the internet has decreased from 76.1% in 2011 to 56.5% in 2016. Since 2011 the largest increase in recent internet usage has been in the older age groups – women aged 75 and over by 169%, women aged between 65 and 74 by 80.7% and men over 75 by 80.3%. Men are still more likely to use the internet in the 75 and over category but in the 65 to 74 age group there is little discernible difference in internet usage between men and women.
And then there is when are you considered to be old? Those of us who have reached our seventh decade we like to think that 60 is the new 40 but, sadly, that is not a view held by society at large if a study commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions entitled Attitudes to age in Britain 2010/11 is to be believed. The headline findings are that the mean age that respondents to the survey thought people stopped being described as young was 41 – gratifyingly generous I would have thought but it may reflect the age profile of the respondents – but the mean age at which people were starting to be considered as old was a paltry 59. Perhaps we are deluding ourselves after all.
The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that silver surfers are rapidly catching up on the youngsters and claiming part of the internet for themselves. Internet usage is still relatively low amongst those at the elderly end of the age spectrum but that may just be down to the fact they can get away by virtue of their age with making politically incorrect statements that the rest of us have to resort to social media to make.
“OMG the silver surfers are coming after us”, the youngsters say. “LOL”, we say.