I am connected: new approaches to supporting people in later life online

Good Things Foundation worked in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better to produce this report, assessing the underlying reasons behind older people's digital behaviour.

For almost a year from spring 2017, Good Things Foundation carried out research for the Centre For Ageing Better, to try and understand the underlying reasons for older people’s digital behaviour.

Our methodology combined analysis of major datasets including the Online Centres learner survey and Ofcom’s Adults’ Media Use & Attitudes Report, as well as original qualitative research in the form of interviews, focus groups and observations.

Rather than testing existing theories or assumptions, we took a grounded theory approach focused on the following research questions:

  • What are the benefits of personal use of the internet for older people, and can these benefits be obtained offline, or through a friend or family member?
  • What prevents and enables people in later life from making meaningful, sustained use of the internet?
  • What characteristics distinguish the older online and offline populations, and what makes the difference at an individual level?
  • Why do some older people continue to choose to not use the internet, and what strategies – if any – might encourage them to do so?
  • With non-users becoming increasingly rare, how can digital inclusion practice remain economical in the short to medium term?
  • What mechanisms can be used to identify at what point a change in personal circumstances turns the internet from an optional extra to a lifeline?

The report also looks to the future, thinking about the nature and role of older people and technology in society and how this is changing.

"Helping older people to get online requires intensive, tailored support, and an open-ended time commitment, especially for those experiencing low confidence and facing multiple barriers and disadvantages."

James Richardson

Research Manager, Good Things Foundation

A profile photo of James