A new report says the over-45s are more tech savvy than we think. The Life2 poll, by Birmingham Midshires building society, says 15 per cent of the older age group now use Skype, while the same percentage also regularly use social networking sites such as MySpace and YouTube .

"These are smart consumers who are not scared of new technology, but rather embrace it because of the important benefits it offers," says Peter MacBride, author of Brilliant Internet for Over-50s. "Gone are the days when over-45s saw the internet as a gadget solely the preserve of techies."

The report abandons the notion of older net users being known as 'silver surfers', instead calling them Online Activists "for whom the internet is indispensable".

The report separates Online Activists into five distinct categories, though it's not always clear who fits into which category...

E-socialites - 17 per cent
For this group the internet is all about contact: keeping in touch with friends and family, forming new relationships and sharing gossip.

Info-Jockeys - 7 per cent
These 'pragmatechies' are the keenest to use tools such as Skype on their mobiles, and are early adopters of tech tools they can use to enhance their work.

Hunter Barterers - 31 per cent
Highly evolved consumers, using price comparison, peer recommendations and crowdsourcing sites like Crowdstorm to get the very best deals.

Micropreneurs - 14 per cent
This group harnesses the internet to trade, network and build business relationships, doing the majority of their work on the internet.

Knowledge Traders - 36 per cent
Creative and proactive, they upload and download media content, and share beliefs and passions via blogs and messageboards.