Internet wins the hearts [and wallets] of Irish silver surfers


19 Mar 2008

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While only 21pc of adult internet users are older than 50 years they account for the largest online spend across a range of internet areas including holiday and travel services, new research reveals.

Recent iReach research of online user demographics in Ireland highlighted a significant trend — the silver surfer in the Irish marketplace.

Only 25pc of the adult population in Ireland contribute to social networking sites, with 70pc of young adults under 24 years being regular contributors. However, a key emerging trend is that of the silver surfer.

In population terms, 21pc of adult Internet users are older than 50 years, and account for the largest online spend across a range of internet areas including holiday and travel services. Half of over-50s said life without the internet was unimaginable.

The silver surfers shop as often as younger generations with 70pc of 50 year-old-plus shopping online regularly, a similar level to the 18-34 year-old groups.

The actual spend of the silver surfer is significantly higher than that of the younger groups, accounting for 30pc on actual online spend in Ireland estimated at €150 million in 2007.

The rise of fast net connections means people are more able to browse web pages at high speed, download files such as music or films and play online games.

“The internet can be an effective means of delivering access to vital services and information about health, hobbies and employment, as well as helping older people keep in touch with friends and family and access vital public services,” explained iReach managing director Oisin Byrne.

But, he said, better information, education and advice was vital in closing the digital divide in Ireland.

“The Irish silver surfers are the most regular and active online users of internet banking, online shopping, tax returns and access to news and entertainment sites and email,” Byrne added.

By John Kennedy