Logged out: 15,000 Falkirk adults not online at start of pandemic says research
One in nine adults in Falkirk did not use the internet in the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, new figures reveal.
As family Zoom calls, home working and internet shopping became a larger part of the country’s day-to-day lives, 11.3% of over-16s surveyed by the Office for National Statistics between January and March 2020 had not been online in the previous three months.
That was higher than across the UK, where around 7.8% of adults do not regularly use the internet – and meant an estimated 15,000 residents in Falkirk were not regular internet users.
Across the UK, around 3.4 million people said in 2020 that they had never used the web – and more than 60% of them were aged 75 and over.
But the number of older people regularly using the internet is rising rapidly, closing the age gap with younger users.
Last year, 54% of over-75s nationally said they had used the internet in the last three months – up from 47% the year before, and a huge leap from just 20% in 2011.
The ONS suggested that the sharp rise in use among older people could be partly related to the effects of the beginning of the pandemic, as millions of people began to head online to stay in touch.
However, the figures should not be used as an overall indicator of its impact, the ONS said, as the data was gathered between January and March 2020, just as the coronavirus outbreak began in the UK.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the two million over-75s still offline are at risk of being excluded from an "increasingly digital world".
She said: "There’s no doubt that technology has been a real lifeline for many older people during the pandemic, with many relying on video calls and email to keep in touch with family and friends.
"But our research suggests a lack of digital skills and confidence is a barrier that prevents many over-75s getting online, alongside the associated costs."
At 88.7%, usage in Falkirk has shot up since 2011, the earliest year for which figures are available.