As may be seen from our own approach here at in my prime we firmly believe that internet access and online activity is not only the future but is already the present. Accordingly, we very much welcome the Government’s Digital Britain Report and initiatives such as NESTA’s “Reboot Britain”.
It is, therefore, rather disconcerting to see in research carried out for Ofcom that not only is there a significant minority who do not have the internet but that many of them, particularly older people, have “self-excluded” themselves and do not see the need nor the value in getting to grips with the new technology.
We are now in a transition phase and many elderly people did not work in or were not brought up in a computerised environment. Their attitude is at least understandable. The learning curve for them is particularly steep – although that should not, in itself, be an excuse. I have experience of trying to help someone make the transition and there is much that can be done by the computer industry to make the experience easier for the elderly – core programs only, spam-free, virus-free, pop-up free, update restricted etc. etc.
But for those over 50s who have not yet reached this stage in their lives there is no excuse. Whether it be employability, keeping in the social mainstream, access to information, finances, improved purchasing power or a host of other uses and benefits, being connected is of paramount importance. Otherwise a truly second class citizenship will emerge and is already doing so.
Every encouragement, incentive and opportunity must be provided to bring people aboard. This is not another example of a nanny state telling us what is good for us and restricting the freedom of the individual – people must not be allowed to shy away.
He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool; avoid him.
He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a student; teach him.
He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep; wake him.
He who knows and knows that he knows is a wise man; follow him.