Tech Updates

How tech savvy are the elderly?

When it comes to technology, some elderly people are more comfortable with it than others. More and more are now using smartphones and interacting on social media sites like Facebook than a few years ago. However, it is important to note which country they live in, regarding whether they a more confident with technology or not. Stairlifts For Curved Stairs investigates the latest figures:

Smartphones & Tablets
The popularity and use of smartphones and tablets is ever-increasing thanks to their seamless internet accessibility. Many of us have these tiny touchscreen devices at hand which can answer to our queries, connect us with friends and provide us with useful information at the tap of our fingers. Has the older generation realised the potential of these devices?

In Britain, figures revealed that almost 50% of those over the age of 55 were using smartphones in 2016. This seems like quite a significant figure, however, when you compare it to the fact that 97% of under 25s used a smartphone, it’s clear to see how age affects behavior.

A report published in the United States disclosed that 32% of American over 65s and 20% of those over 80, revealed that they possessed a tablet computer and 19% said they owned e-readers.

It’s certainly worthwhile for the older generation to be educated in using the latest gadgets, should they ever have a need to in the future. Around three-quarters of Americans over 65 said that the statement, ‘When I get a new electronic device, I usually need someone else to set it up or show me how to use it,’ describes them very, or somewhat well. Also, only 26% of older internet users said that they felt very confident.  

While it is true that there may be the assumption that older people don’t understand advances in technology and are not willing to learn how to use them, findings have suggested otherwise. In fact, 58% of adults aged 65 and over said that technology has had a mostly positive impact on society. Of course, it can depend on annual income and disposable income as to whether an elderly person owns a smart device — 81% of older Americans who earned over $75,000 said that they owned a smartphone while only 27% of those who earned less than $30,000 owned one.

Internet Users
When we consider the internet in its entirety, most of us would find it difficult to live without it. You probably use it to read the latest news, check the weather forecast or use it hourly at work. But, is the older generation as reliant on the World Wide Web?  

Research tells us that just over 4 in 10 adults aged 75 and over had recently used the internet when they were asked last year. This illustrates a 20% increase since 2011, showing how widespread the internet has become over the past seven years.

Compared to the older generation across the pond, figures reveal that 64% of over 65s used the internet in 2016. There was also a 46.4% growth reported in US internet users over the age of 55 from 2014 to 2017, with around half of American seniors say that they now have high-speed internet at home. This is a 4% increase on 2013.

There are still just 44% of those aged 80 and over that said they used the internet at all, with only 28% of these having their own broadband service at home.

Moving into continental Europe, just under 30% of Germans aged 50 and over said they accessed the internet on a mobile phone and in France, 48% of people aged over 70 were internet users in 2016. When compared to the 100% of internet users who were aged 12-17 it’s clear to see a significant generation gap when it comes to getting online. In Belgium, 35% of the population that were aged between 65 and 74 admitted that they had never used the internet at all.

Then there’s the aging nation of Canada, where over 65s outnumber under 14s. In 2019, experts forecast that 53.4% of over 65s will be internet users. And, in the technological hub of Japan, 44.3% of over 80s who accessed the internet said that they did so at least once a day, along with 48% of those aged 70-79.


On the whole, the younger generation have welcomed advances in technology when it comes to keeping on top of their personal finances and making seamless payments in restaurants and shops. With one simple tap of the debit card, something can be paid for instantaneously.

Back in the UK, Barclaycard has revealed that 20% of its contactless card users are now 65 and over — suggesting that they are warming to the new system. More people are jumping on board too, 55% of over 65s have used the tap to pay service, up 3% from 2016. Saga supported this research too, saying that one in five over 50s use their contactless cards up to three times per week.

Staying connected

For a large portion of the younger generation, the internet is the main way that they stay ‘connected’ and keep in touch with the rest of the world. Through Twitter and Facebook, people can read instantaneous news from their local area and worldwide. And, with downloadable apps, smartphone users can receive notifications of the latest headlines. Is the older generation accessing news in the same way?

21% of over 50s in the UK said that they get their daily news from social network sites. This could mean logging onto Facebook to see what the latest status’ are or checking what’s trending on Twitter. In the US, this number rose to 26% with 70% of older Facebook users saying that they log in to the site daily. In fact, there has been a reported change in the demographics of Facebook users — with the number of 12-17-year-olds who use the site declining by 9.9% in 2017.

How do these figures compare to mainland Europe’s elderly population? In Germany, only 9% of those over 50 said that they get their daily news from social networks and 34% said that they get their daily news from the internet. In France and Italy, 13% of the mature generation stated that they went to social media sites for their news.

These figures were relatively high in Canada — with 1 in 4 of those over the age of 50 heading over to social networking sites to find out the latest headlines.

So, as shown, the tech habits of the older generation varies from between countrie. Eventually, it’s likely that the majority of the older population will understand the benefits of technology and come to accept it as a way of life. In the meantime, younger people should be educating their elders on how to use the devices and how it could enhance their daily activities.