Young should help older net users

Silver surfer
Image caption Five million older people in the UK regard the TV as their main company

A campaign is urging the six million older people in the UK who have never been online to get connected as a way to help stave off loneliness.

The charity Age UK is calling on net-savvy friends and relatives to help the older generation take their first steps in the digital world.

A survey suggests that less than half of the UK's over-55s use the internet.

By contrast, 58% of older citizens in Norway and Luxembourg are online.

The statistics, collated by Eurostat, show that 43% of UK citizens aged 55-74 are web users. The average across Europe is 28%.

Age UK is running a campaign to get people with internet skills to pass on their knowledge to older friends, relatives or neighbours.

Nearly one million older people are often lonely, and over half (five million) say that they consider the TV as their main form of company, according to the charity.

"Older internet users are telling us that they are better connected to their loved ones," said Helena Herklots, services director at Age UK.

"If everyone helps one older person they know to get online, the UK's older population could surf their way to the top of the European table, helping in the battle against social isolation along the way," she added.

64-year-old Margaret Goodwin said that being online has helped her avoid loneliness. "I regularly use the internet to keep in touch with friends and family around the world and have got back in contact with family I had lost touch with. I've even tried internet dating," she said.

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