The impact of digitisation on older people – giving evidence at the Women and Equalities Committee

Doctor using a smartphone

The world we live in has been transforming digitally for some time, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, the role that technology plays in our lives, has increased rapidly. Recently, Citizens Online were invited to give evidence at the Women and Equalities Committee, on the impact of digitisation on older people. The Committee is examining, the rights of older people.

Our Managing Director, Helen Dobson, spoke at the Committee. Firstly, she highlighted that many older people are very confident and competent users of technology. Many of Citizens Online’s digital champions, that are helping others with technology, are older people. However, statistics show that age remains the biggest risk factor to indicate how likely it is that someone could be digitally excluded. Other risk factors include; disability, low income, low educational attainment, rurality and living alone. When any of these risk factors are combined, the risk of digital inclusion is increased.

The panel at the Committee highlighted the barriers that older people may face to access and use digital tools. Citizens Online believe that a non-digital route to access essential digital services must be maintained. We spoke of ways to improve digital inclusion including; raising awareness of where people can get support, better inclusive and accessible design of digital products, improving connectivity across the UK and funding for a range or provision, including support in people’s homes as learning digital skills is not a one-size fits all approach. The Committee will make recommendations in May.