ONS Data Shows That 70+ Year Olds Spend More Time Online Than Younger Adults

ONS Data Shows That 70+ Year Olds Spend More Time Online Than Younger Adults

New data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that older Britons are one of the most active demographics online. They may be stereotyped as less tech-savvy, but now the country’s oldest generations have taken to the internet to see what’s in store. There’s even a trendy name for them – silver surfers.

Using the Internet

In 2024, the internet as we know it turns 41. That means several generations have hit their golden years with the internet in their lives. However, today’s older people seem to have grasped the internet more than past generations, per ONS data.

This is unsurprising given that a lot of work and entertainment has moved online over the past ten years, causing a drastic shift in online users. Entire industries need the internet to function nowadays, and the same can be said for their customers. Streaming services like Netflix are a prominent example, growing in popularity and number over the past decade, while in Britain specifically, there are homegrown iGaming companies operated from servers across the island. For instance, when iGaming customers, a good chunk of which belong to the over 70 segment, play online slots at Paddy Power Games, they need to use a working internet connection to access their game library. This is the case for so many other services, which help nudge people online if they want to enjoy the internet and all that can be found there.

It was predictable that, over time, the internet is popular with every generation and becomes more widely used as the first internet users grow older. However, the new stats show a stark divide between older 70+ year-olds and younger people in the 40+ demographic. Besides Gen Z, the 70+ year-old cohort spent the most time online than every other age bracket.

The ONS Statistics

The new data comes from an ONS time use study where 5,000 adults were sampled and asked to provide insights into how they spent their time every day. This included paid work, household work, travel, and entertainment. Those diaries were processed to figure out how Britons spent their time in September of 2023. The results were widely publicised by The Guardian.

The result showed that 70+ year-olds spent 43 minutes a day on internet-enabled devices. Activities included checking emails, browsing the web, and even uploading content online for work or as a hobby. 70+ year-olds did that more than any other age group, besides the youngest generations who were excluded from the study. In total, they spent approximately ten more minutes online than people in their 40s. In short, while fewer 70+ year olds may be online, those that are online spend a lot more time on the internet than their children.

When it came to entertainment, the study tracked both computers and handheld devices. The proliferation of smartphones has also helped get older folks online by literally putting the internet in their hands. More crucially, tablets like the iPad and its competitors let people with poor eyesight benefit from larger screens and variable font sizing. Similarly, smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa allow people to operate online using voice commands.