Silver surfers are the real Internet whizz kids

People aged over 65 spend more time online than any other age group. According to the latest report from Ofcom, those aged over 65 spend a staggering 42 hours per week online. At the other end of the age range, children are also spending more time online, amazingly giving up console games in favour of the Internet and mobile phones. Indeed, the sizeable drop in console game use by children could well be behind the recent price drops of the Sony PS3 and the Microsoft XBox – the market is diminishing.

However, online it seems is flourishing. Since 2002 the time we spend online has gone up an astonishing 158%. Indeed, we now spend 50 hours every week engaging with various media, including the Internet, according to Ofcom. Now, each week we only get 168 hours. Most of us work an average of 45 hours a week, we sleep an average of 56 hours each week and if we are using media for 50 hours a week, that only leaves two hours a day for all our other activities, such as sport, leisure and being with our families.

The trend is clearly to live our lives online. Indeed, that may well be why the silver surfers spend so much time online. Much of this time will be keeping in touch with families, often now spread far and wide. When the over 65s grew up, most of their family members lived in the same village. Nowadays that is increasingly unusual, yet the over 65s want to keep in touch so the Internet comes to the rescue.

For the younger generations their “norm” is to live life online – they don’t know any other way, unlike the silver surfers. So, clearly the trend is for more of us to use the Internet as our main communications medium. It will soon be the first place we turn to for fun, entertainment, keeping in touch with families and learning.

For businesses this means if you don’t take advantage right now of all the Internet is going to offer, you will suffer serious problems in the very near future. The way people live their lives is clearly changing much more rapidly than commentators expected a few years ago. No longer can businesses merely have an online brochure; they need to engage fully with the medium, after all with silver surfers committing 42 hours a week to the Internet, they are doing just that.

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