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Friday, 4 May, 2001, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Silver surfers 'get closer to family'

More than four million older people own a computer
Older people who use the internet believe it has strengthened family ties and friendships rather than added to social exclusion, a survey suggests.

But the survey of so-called "silver surfers" uncovered concerns about the cost of surfing the net and the prevalence of "cyber crime".

Age Concern's website hosted the survey, which drew 122 responses from the public.

It suggested older people felt learning internet skills had given them shared points of interest with the younger generation and stimulated their minds.


It's a medium that they are happy and confident with

Gordon Lishman, Age Concern director general
More than four million older people in the UK now own computers and about 600,000 use them at colleges and libraries.

Many respondents said using e-mail had enabled them to make new friends and get involved in local and global issues.

The survey also found that among silver surfers, twice as many women as men were surfing the net.

Lady at computer
More older women than older men use the internet
In the younger generations more men than women use the net.

But pensioners said they were unhappy with the costs of computer use and called for discounted internet rates.

Nine out of 10 people surveyed said e-mail was the biggest benefit of their computer literacy.

And more than eight out 10 said the internet had been an "empowering and liberating experience".

'Fluent users'

Gordon Lishman, Age Concern director general, said the internet was becoming a key communication tool for the elderly.

"Older internet users are enjoying the whole internet experience - they are fluent users who are communicating with friends and making new ones, developing improved relations with family, shopping, exploring hobbies and chatting with their grandchildren.

"It's a medium that they are happy and confident with."

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