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Using the Internet is the preferred hobby of pensioners

2nd February 2007 Print
Britain’s pensioners have become a generation of silvers surfers, according to a report by insurer AXA. The research reveals what it’s really like to be a pensioner in 11 countries across the globe, exploring everything from money worries to how they spend their days.

The study shows that surfing the Internet has overtaken more traditional pastimes such as DIY and gardening.

Preferred pastimes for pensioners

Internet usage, 41%
DIY / gardening, 39%
Specialist interest, 36%
Travel, 28%
Walking / hiking, 28%

This level of Internet surfing puts retired Britons amongst the top five users of ‘web time’ in the nations surveyed for the global study. Activities such as chatting to friends, emailing, searching for information, organising finances with online banking and reading the news, means that retirees spend an average of six hours online every week.

Most popular internet activities of pensioners

E-mailing, 84%
Searching for information, 83%
Purchase travel tickets, 45%
Banking, 35%
Read the news, 28%

The report reveals that far from being isolated at their PCs and losing touch with relatives, the internet-savvy elderly are embracing the web to enhance their social lives and keep in touch with family. Of those questioned, 66% regularly contact their children online with more than four in ten (42%) chatting to or emailing their grandchildren over the internet.

Furthermore, pensioners are shunning the high street in favour of letting their mouse take the strain with a variety of online purchases. Travel tickets are the most popular item bought online with 45% of retirees surfing the net to book flight, cruise or coach tickets. In addition, one in three uses the internet to pick up the latest CD, DVD or theatre tickets. Significantly, the benefits of purchasing essential items like groceries online (common with 11%) saves pensioners from the long trip home clutching heavy shopping.

In addition, global comparisons show that a stereotypically tech-savvy country such as Japan is left trailing in the silver surfer stakes by other nations. Despite a well-earned reputation for embracing the latest technological developments, when compared to countries such as the UK, Japan’s retired population are less likely to use the internet as a source of information and making contact with friends and family.

Average number of hours per week spent by retired people online

USA, 9 hours
Australia, 7 hours
Canada, 7 hours
UK, 6 hours
New Zealand, 6 hours
France, 5 hours
Germany, 4 hours
Japan, 3 hours
Italy, 2 hours
Spain, 2 hours

Alison Green, spokesperson at AXA, says: “It is encouraging to see British pensioners embracing technology. This report highlights how pensioners are using the internet to support a less stressful approach to life in their later years. The potentially arduous task of struggling with the shopping is becoming less of an issue as retirees can simply log onto their computers and select groceries at their leisure.

“Furthermore, the myth that spending hours at your PC is anti-social can be dispelled once and for all. Our study shows a large proportion of retired people go online to keep in contact with friends and relatives. It appears you can teach old dogs new tricks after all!”