Mobile driving growth in older web users

The increasing accessibility of smartphones and tablet computers has contributed to significant growth in web use among people aged 65 and over, a new report suggests.

According to the latest Adults’ Media Use and Attitude study, which was published this week by media regulator Ofcom, the number of over-65s regularly who regularly use the internet grew by 27 per cent between 2012 and 2013.

The researchers behind the study suggest that tablet ownership – which rose from five per cent to 17 per cent in the same 12 months – played a significant part in the increase. What’s more, those aged 65-74 are now almost twice as likely to use smartphones, with ownership rising from 12 per cent to 20 per cent, reports.

Stephen Ebbett from gadget insurance firm Protect Your Bubble said that smartphones and tablet computers are perfect for those who need an easy way into technology. He was quoted by as saying: For someone who finds technology completely alien, a touchscreen is simply easier to get to grips with than a computer mouse.

“And tablets – once the preserve of early adopters and business folk – are now much less expensive than they used to be. You can now buy a budget slate for under £100 which has boosted their popularity across all demographics.”

The news is likely to push more firms into optimising their websites for use on touchscreen devices. With use more readily associated with younger consumers, many companies with older target audiences have so far failed to see past desktop computers.