Virgin Media helps the aged

Virgin Media helping to get the older generation online
Virgin Media helping to get the older generation online

Two-thirds of the UK is now online according to the Office for National Statistics. Despite this, the number of elderly people logging on has stagnated.

This news has brought about some disparaging comments from Help The Aged, a charity that looks after the well-being of the elderly.

"Absolutely no progress has been made in getting older people online and the spotlight is now on [the] government and the industry to get switched on. Nearly seven million (70 per cent) of people over 65 have never used the internet," said David Sinclair, head of policy for Help The Aged.

Digital Unite

Despite this claim, a number of ISPs are trying to encourage the elderly to get online.

TechRadar spoke to Virgin Media about what steps it is taking to make sure that the older generation isn't missing out on the internet and it reeled off a number of campaigns it's working on.

"We are currently working with Digital Unite to help get older people online," said a Virgin Media spokesperson.

"As well as supporting [Digital Unite's] Silver Surfers' Day Campaign, we're working with 17 sheltered housing schemes to offer a 'get online' package, which contains computers (two per site), software and accessories, plus a seven-week training program to get to grips with the net and free broadband for a year.

"We're just going through the final checks and will be installing broadband and starting the training courses shortly."

Older rivers running dry

Whether this is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to bridging the 'digital divide' remains to be seen, because it's not just about Google when it comes to the elderly becoming web-wise, as Sinclair at Help The Aged notes.

"Exclusion from modern society is increasingly less about being able to get to the library and more about being able to access the rivers of information flowing in and out of British homes each day.

"If you cannot access these rivers you cannot take part."

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.