lder people who have reservations about using the internet could be losing nearly £1,000 a year by paying extra for goods and services because they do not feel computer-savvy, according to a new study.
Research from the Vodafone UK Foundation found that nearly half of those over 65 (45%) do not feel completely comfortable going online.
It estimated that, as a result, those people could be spending on average an extra £97 on clothes, £158 on entertainment services and £184 on travel, as well as missing out on £156 in state entitlements – adding up to a total possible loss of just over £900 a year.
The research also found that 38% of those older people unsure about going online feel left out or forgotten when digital is pushed as the preferred option by a service, while 34% said they feel more stressed when a service requires an online action – for example, booking a doctor’s appointment.
In addition, a key concern among many is the fear of scams and online security – something more than half (54%) of those who worried about going online in general highlighted – as well as concerns about not knowing how to fix something if it goes wrong (49%) and finding it too hard to keep up with the pace at which the digital world changes (38%).
In response, the Vodafone UK Foundation has worked with the charity Independent Age to launch a digital skills programme aimed at the over-65s, which is being supported by consumer champion Gloria Hunniford.
The free online resource – called Hi Digital – offers step-by-step advice on key areas of being on the internet, including how to use a search engine, online shopping, accessing news and staying in touch with family and friends.
Ms Hunniford 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.”
Nicki Lyons, corporate affairs and sustainability director at 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.”