They have been dubbed the ‘silver surfers’ for their unexpected love of social media and smart phones. And it seems the elderly is also embracing catch-up TV, with new figures showing that more than one in ten of the over-75s regularly use services like BBC iPlayer.
Recent reports found that reams of grandparents were signing up to Facebook in a bid to keep up-to-date on what their families were up to.
Yet a study by Ofcom published yesterday shows that they are also using the internet to watch their favourite TV shows, which typically include Eggheads and Countdown, on tablets and laptops at a time of their choosing, rather than the schedulers’.
A survey of internet users found that 11 percent of those aged over 75 watch TV programmes or films online on a weekly basis. And they are also not averse to browsing the internet for short video clips, with 9 percent regularly watching videos on sites such as YouTube.
Unsurprisingly the 16-24 age group makes the most use of online video services, with 52 percent of them watching TV programmes or films each week.
Yet online tutorials or ‘How-to videos’ are most popular among the over-55s, who say that it is the biggest reason they use online video sites.
The Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes report also highlighted the increasing domination of smart phones, with seven in ten adults now owning one.
Yet the regulator suggested smart phones could kill off the PC altogether, as new research shows people are increasingly shunning computers.
The survey found that 16 percent of people now only use their smartphone or tablet when going online, with figures soaring from six percent last year.
The report stated, « These newer devices are not just supplementing PCs/laptops, but are starting to replace them. This pattern is seen across all ages of adults, across all socio-economic groups and for males and females. »
Figures show the shift away from PCs has been most marked among the younger generation, newer users and those in the lowest socio-economic groups.
Smartphones have also overtaken TV sets as the media device people would miss most and are the device mostly used for social media and the majority of online activities. There has also been a significant increase in the proportion of Internet users who say they only use websites or apps that they have used before, with current figures of 42 percent compared to 31 percent last year.
Ofcom concluded that the trend, which is particularly prominent in over 25s, « points to a narrowing use of the Internet ».
A second report by Ofcom yesterday, titled the UK audience attitudes towards broadcast media, found that a third of people think TV programming has got worse in the last year.
The main gripes were that there are more repeats, a lack of variety and an overall lack of quality in programming, though the overall figure has remained unchanged.