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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Seniors: 'Modern life is rubbish'
Older people using computers
Only 14% of those asked felt the internet had improved life
Everything was better in the 1950s - except washing machines, central heating and inside toilets, according to a survey of people aged above 50.

The 3,000 seniors found modern society crime-ridden, sleazy, promiscuous, foul-mouthed, noisy and second-rate.

And they strongly disliked its greed, selfishness, unfriendliness, ill discipline, bad manners, easy credit, drug culture, TV sex and violence.

In the 50s people seemed kinder and had more time for each other, they said.

People were neighbourly, public transport was good, music was better and housing more affordable.

And they missed the slower pace of life, job security, and the way families had lived closer together and society valued housewives.

Everything seemed so much more affable, honest and direct
Actress Barbara Windsor

With an average age of 69, 89% of those asked said they were glad they had been young in the 50s and not now, as children had been more innocent and allowed to remain child-like for longer.

Children had been safer then said 88%, with more freedom to play outside, 85% felt.

But most said it was better to be a pensioner now, with 70% saying they lived healthier, longer and more active lives and people no longer considered 60 to be old.

Four out of every five said mobile phones had made life worse, only 14% felt the internet had improved it, and 92% said they had been "happy in the 50s without any of these modern things".

They missed respect for authority, said 93%, bobbies on the beat - 91%, and the pride people used to feel in being British - 81% .

It was a gentler, somehow less competitive world
Singer Val Doonican

People had been more innocent according to 86%, and seemed kinder - 72% , with less crime - 85%.

Barbara Windsor, who was born in 1937 and first appeared on the acting scene in the 50s, said they "were happy days because everything seemed so much more affable, honest and direct".

Singer Val Doonican, 78, added. "It was a gentler, somehow less competitive world."

The editor of Yours Magazine, which commissioned the research, Valery McConnell, told BBC News it "shows most people are happier when they have a simple life rather than a complicated one".

"Everything about modern-day society is complex and stressful - automated answering machines, mind-boggling car parks and road systems, endless traffic, 50 different varieties of everything, bank managers you cannot talk to, high crime levels and aggression on the streets.

"More has been lost than gained.

Many older people miss the simplicity of the 50s and wish their grandchildren could experience the same
Yours Magazine editor, Valery McConnell

"Material possessions designed to make our lives easier also have a downside.

"Modern communication means people speak on mobiles, not on the street corner or at the bus stop.

"Increased mobility means we no longer know our neighbours or live near our families.

"Cars have driven children off the streets.

"Large out of town supermarkets mean many High Streets are deserted.

Gentler era

"People no longer feel at home in their communities.

"No wonder many older people miss the simplicity of the 50s and wish their grandchildren could experience the same.

"The 50's was a gentler era when manners and people mattered.

"People were more important than possessions and had time for each other... knew their neighbours and had a sense of belonging."




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