To many Brits, technology is seen as a young persons’ game. The latest iPhone 6 or Kindle HD is far more likely to be owned by the under 30s than it is those closer to retirement age. It is simply assumed that school-age children have a better understanding of computers and the internet than retirees.
However new research suggests that this may not always be the case, with expats aged over 50 leading the pack. If recent studies are to be believed, those individuals who have moved abroad are considerably more computer-literate than their less adventurous peers.
The differences between the two groups of over 50’s is truly astonishing. For example, the findings suggest that 28% of Brits aged over 65 have never used the Internet before. Of the 72% of the older generation who have used the Internet at some point in their lives, over two thirds still lack even basic online skills. 53% of those over 65 would be unable to access and use the Internet without guidance from a more experienced friend or family member.
However the global expatriate community is turning these figures on their head, boasting a far better uptake of new technologies. For example, 75% of expats aged over 50 consider themselves to be a ‘regular’ Internet user. Of this impressive population, the most common activity is to use the Internet as a communication tool. 78% of those surveyed regularly use social media sites in order to stay in contact with friends and family back home. Of the social networking sites, Facebook is the most popular destination by far.
However it’s not just friends and family that more mature expats like to communicate with online. According to the research 63% of expats also use the Internet as a way to communicate with other expats, and thus to integrate smoothly into their adopted country.
47% of expats surveyed also use the Internet to manage their healthcare service and the over 55’s now make up an impressive 26% of the online population.
The lesson here is clear; technology isn’t necessarily a young persons’ game, as many of us had assumed. On the contrary; the so-called ‘silver surfers’ are more than capable of getting to grips with computers and the Internet. The only real difference is that it seems the more mature Internet user just needs a good reason to persevere and get to grips with the World Wide Web.
It would appear, comparing the statistics for both expats and non-expats, that moving overseas can be the perfect motivation to encourage non-Internet users to get over their fears and embrace all the limitless possibilities of getting online.