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Tablets behind boost in older generations' Internet use

The number of Internet users over the age of 65 has risen by over a quarter in the last 12 months, according to communications regulator Ofcom.

The organisation’s Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes report found that the overall Internet use in adults has risen from 79 per cent in 2012 to 83 per cent in 2013 - but for those in the 65 and over category, that number has climbed has risen from 33 per cent to 42 per cent.

The research claims that the rise in older people online has been driven by the increase in the use of tablet computers; in the 65-74 age group, tablet use is up from 5 per cent two years ago to 17 per cent last year.

However, computers, laptops or netbooks are still the most popular devices to use for the Internet, although two-thirds of participants said they also use other methods like smartphones and tablets.

Internet usage is up overall

Overall Internet use is up, says the study, with 98 per cent of adults under the age of 35 now being online. The growth was driven by 25-34s and 45-54s, as well as the over 65.

Usage had risen from 92 per cent in 2012 to 98 per cent in 2013 and 84 per cent to 91 per cent in the 25-34 and 45-54 categories respectively.

Older users less likely to access variety of online services

Despite the positive findings that more mature age groups are able to access the Internet, Ofcom did find that those over 65 were less likely than other users to do a range of online activities.

When it came to online banking, only 35 per cent of those in the older age group claimed to use this service, compared to 61 per cent in the other age ranges.

Similar results were found when it came to downloading and watching TV and film on the Internet, 25 per cent instead of 40 per cent for the under 65s.

Again, 30 per cent of those aged 65 and over visited social networking sites and apps, in comparison with 68 per cent of younger people.

The UK government recently announced its Digital Inclusion Strategy , aimed at helping those who do not use the Internet yet get online.