Digital inclusion – make it rural

We’re glad to see the conversation moving forwards around digital inclusion for older people. As the UK government puts out its new digital strategy, we join Centre for Ageing Better’s Jemma Mouland in welcoming recognition of the fact that many people in later life in the UK do not have basic digital skills. However, we also believe that things have to go further if we want to make really meaningful progress in addressing this gap. As more and more services go online, it’s more important than ever that digital technologies are accessible for all.

In 2015, we put together a set of Hints and Tips on encouraging older people to get the most out of digital stuff. Through this work, we heard what differences getting online and confident with computers, tablets and smartphones has made to people’s lives, the challenges people faced and thoughts for how we can help more older people benefit from the internet and digital technology.

“I now feel part of things, the world has opened up a bit more.”

At the beginning of this year, we launched our new Rural Wisdom project which aims to make rural areas in Scotland, Wales and the rest of the UK work better for us all as we get older. Improved rural connectivity will be a vital part of this. Offering older people the chance to learn and develop digital skills is important, however if they then can’t access the internet from where they’re living, the benefits of such skills development will be very limited.

This is something which has been raised in many of the conversations we’ve been having around what would make life better for older people in rural areas. It’s important we make sure that as the discussion around digital inclusion develops, better connectivity for rural areas is a key part of it – improving life for older people and for everyone.

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