Elderly people worldwide not sold on mobile internet

Elderly people worldwide not sold on mobile internet

While mobile Internet continues to explode across Asia, it remains less popular among older Internet users.

GSM Association data shows that mobile broadband connections in the Asia Pacific region are set to almost double to 2.1 billion by 2017.

While Asian markets grow and Internet penetration increases, Telenor remains sensitive to segments of the population that are being left behind by the digital revolution.

From data gathered by Telenor's local Asian business units, it is evident that elderly populations throughout Asian markets are less engaged with the Internet, particularly via mobile handsets.

In four Telenor markets: India, Thailand, Bangladesh and Malaysia, the senior segment in some of these markets represent only 2 per cent of active mobile users, with fewer still using smart-phones.

Telenor's surveys found that the top reasons consumers cited for not using mobile data are related to perceived utility and complexity of the services.

In Thailand, Dtac, Telenor's local business unit, reported 6 per cent of users being over 60, and a mere 2 per cent over 65.

Elderly people's lack of enthusiasm for the mobile information revolution is to some extent true throughout the developing world. According to Pew Research's study "Technology in Asia", younger people aged 18 to 34 are more likely to have accessed the Internet than their older counterparts in every country polled.

The correlation of prosperity and Internet usage is also reflected in Pew's findings in Asia, which revealed that 14 per cent of Thais and 17 per cent of Malaysians over the age of 50 use the Internet or own a smartphone, versus 7 per cent, 5 per cent, and 2 per cent of the same demographic in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, respectively.

The figures should be compared to those of China, in which a full 25 per cent of the 50+ segment report regularly using the Internet or owning a smartphone.

In Europe, only 18 per cent of Internet users over a three-month period aged 45-54 connected to the Internet from mobile devices, while most (79 per cent) elderly Internet users aged 65 to 74 access the Internet from home only.

This shows that mobile Internet remains less popular among older Internet users even in the developed world.

Telenor says the Internet is a conduit for encouraging continued social participation and productivity and can be a vital tool for senior citizens.

Thus, all stakeholders, from government to families to operators should be cognisant of this impending "crisis of connectivity", and be poised to respond.

Families and loved ones have an important role to play in the mentoring process, of course.

They must all take measures to ensure that the benefits of the Internet are truly enjoyed by all, not just the young.

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