Survey reveals what older people want to do with tech

Two older men smiling in cafe setting looking at laptop on tableThe older generation is comfortable using Google Maps and WhatsApp - but won't set up their smart TV or talk to AI, according to a new survey of people aged 65 and over.

The poll, conducted for BT Group by in mid June 2023, found that older people want to build their digital confidence, and identified the top tech tasks people are - and aren't - willing to do.

WhatsApp gets top marks

Firing off a WhatsApp is something 64 per cent of respondents feel comfortable with - but only 12 per cent would be confident navigating TikTok.

Facebook (65 per cent) is the overwhelming social media platform of choice for the older generation – with YouTube (34 per cent) and Instagram (16 per cent) far less popular with this age group. 

Only two per cent of over 65s are Snapchat users.

Tuition is required for building confidence

The research indicated that older people tend to struggle with digital technology, as just 13 per cent rated their ability as ‘very good’.

More than half (57 per cent) say they would like to be better at using and understanding digital technology.

Not being shown how to use something (40 per cent) and finding new tech complicated and overwhelming (29 per cent) are the major factors holding this age group back.

And nearly a fifth (19 per cent) would be more inclined to build their confidence with digital technology if they had someone show them how to use it.

AbilityNet has been working with BT to roll out training to older people in areas of the UK, to increase their confidence using tech.

How AbilityNet and BT is helping older people with tech

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Director at BT Group, which has been working with AbilityNet on projects to help older people boost their technology skills, said:

"Technology can open so many doors. At BT Group we’re working with UK charity AbilityNet to deliver more than 1,000 group and one-to-one training sessions to those who need it most in regions across the UK. Technology is no longer a take-it-or-leave it proposition, it is a fundamental part of life and older people should not be left behind.”

Online banking is top task for older generation

Smiling woman with laptopThe majority of respondents' top reason for using digital technology is for online banking, but only one in 20 strongly agree they try and stay up to date with the latest digital technology trends and advancements.

More than half (52 per cent) would ask their kids for help if they needed assistance with something, while five per cent would just give up.

However, 91 per cent regularly use a mobile phone, and 56 per cent of over-65s are users of a tablet.

Senior Skills programme for the digitally excluded

Victoria Johnson added: “For younger people – especially those in the Gen Z demographic, or younger still – tech has been a part of their lives forever. Many will have grown up with the internet, smartphones and streaming services from the day they were born.

"These are huge digital advances that people born decades earlier will have to make big adjustments to, so it’s no wonder there are still gaps in their knowledge.

“Our new Senior Skills programme aims to help close this gap and get the older and digitally excluded generation feeling more tech savvy.”

Sarah Brain, Free Services Manager at AbilityNet, said:

“This research continues to show the need for support for digital skills for the older generation to ensure they feel equipped and confident to manage their day-to-day lives and stay connected to the outside world. 

“We’re thrilled to be supported by BT Group to deliver this digital skills training and help bridge the divide.” 

If you know someone who needs digital skills training, call AbilityNet on 0800 048 7642 during
office hours or email 

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