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Monday, 4 December, 2000, 02:32 GMT
Pensioners 'missing out on net boom'
The internet
Few pensioners think they are too old to use the internet
By the BBC's Jason Kay

The internet is failing to attract pensioners, or "silver surfers" as they are known.

A survey conducted by a leading accountants has found that 89% of the over-60s have never used the internet.

KMPG found no lack of willingness to learn, with only 2% considering themselves too old, but 58% said they had no access to a computer.

Of those who did use the internet, most found it most useful for keeping in touch with friends and relatives.

The government has promised to put all of its services online by 2005 - everything from filing tax returns to claiming benefits.

Digital divide

Older people tend to be heavier users of public services, so the government will be under pressure to make sure they can get access to the internet.

Businesses too may need to do more to attract older customers.

Most online retailers are aimed at younger audiences. But figures show that older internet users spend more time online.

A report published by the government earlier this year recommended setting up internet points in locations where people feel at ease, including pubs, community centres, post offices and train stations.

It also announced a 252m initiative to create 1,000 new technology training centres. The aim is to reduce the gap between technology haves and have-nots.

Further suggestions in the government report included the provision of technology to help people with transport difficulties do their shopping and make use of government services and healthcare.

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See also:

28 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Britain digitally divided say ministers
09 Nov 99 | Education
Cyber pub appeals to students
20 May 00 | UK
Silver surfers boom
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