DigitalizationStudy examines digital participation among seniors

Bitkom published the results of a comprehensive representative survey on the use of digital technologies among senior citizens today. The results show that almost two thirds of elderly consumers can no longer imagine life without the Internet. However, there has been no significant increase in digital participation among older people as a result of the Corona pandemic, even though in the course of Corona some previously skeptical seniors were persuaded to go digital.

For this study, Bitkom Research on behalf of the digital association Bitkom interviewed a total of 1,086 and 1,075 people in Germany aged above 65 in January and July 2020, including 516 and respectively 522 Internet users, by telephone about their use of digital technologies.

These are further details:

  • Digitalization: In July 2020, 69 percent of people above 65 said they saw digitalization as an opportunity, five percent more than in January (64 percent). In contrast, 29 percent currently consider digitization as a threat – a decline of four percent since January.
  • Almost half of respondents (45 percent) say they are at least open to technological innovations – compared to only 38 percent, who said so at the start of 2020.
  • Internet & online services: Almost two thirds of elderly Internet users can no longer imagine life without the Internet. In July 2020, the share of Internet users among older consumers remains at about 50 percent and therefore stable compared with early 2020. Compared to 2014, this share even increased by nine percent from initially 38 percent.
  • Advantages of Internet use are seen, among other things, in expanding one's personal knowledge (94 percent), promoting mental fitness (76 percent) and to remain in closer contact with family (55 percent).
  • Popular online services are primarily e-mail (96 percent), online research on personal interests (93 percent), news on current events (88 percent compared to 84 percent before the Corona pandemic), online shopping (72 percent and increase by five percent since the beginning of the year), online banking (69 percent and increase by three percent) or streaming videos, movies and and series (44 percent and increase by four percent).
  • Especially the use of video telephony has increased since the beginning of the Corona pandemic – 40 percent in July 2020 compared to 31 percent in early 2020.
  • In addition, about a third of older Internet users are active on social media – with Facebook (57 percent) being the most popular platform.
  • Reasons for not using digital services: Among non-onliners, 49 percent say they lack the technical requirements for Internet access. 14 percent go online but lack someone to explain it to them. 30 percent state, that they do not want to deal with digital technologies at an old age.
  • Digital devices: 54 percent of respondents use a desktop PC at least occasionally, 42 percent use a laptop and one in five uses a tablet PC. While 41 percent use a smartphone, one quarter still make calls with an ordinary cell phone without touch display or Internet access. 30 percent watch via a smart TV and eleven percent use a fitness tracker.
  • eHealth: The following digital health solutions are now more common among older Internet users: Reminders for doctor's appointments by text message or e-mail (38 percent), making appointments online (37 percent), communication with doctors by e-mail (21 percent) or messenger (19 percent) and telemedical monitoring (six percent).

Achim Berg, Bitkom President, commented: "Digital technologies have proven themselves in many areas during the Corona pandemic. However, senior citizens still find it difficult to enter new digital territory – more help is needed. One of the most important tasks of digital policy is to facilitate access to the digital world for older people in particular. Even though the Internet has hardly gained any additional fans among older people: Once you have moved into the digital world, you don't want to miss it anymore."

Source: Bitkom

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