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TalkTalk Sees Surge in Internet Use Among Pensioners

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Budget broadband provider TalkTalk has seen a surge in internet use among pensioners since the start of the pandemic, including an appetite for streaming television shows and a surprising predilection for online video games.

Internet usage among over 65s between July and November of this year was up 69% from the same period in 2019, TalkTalk found. This suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has altered the way older Britons conduct their lives, turning them onto video calling, streaming, and even gaming. It may also be related to continuing social distancing and virus wariness among older cohorts.

Use of the internet was up across all age groups, TalkTalk, but the rise was sharpest among the oldest. While internet use amount 18 to 24-year-olds rose just 38% between July- November 2019 and July- November 2021, it was up 72% among those over 75.

The use of online streaming services such as iPlayer, Netflix, and Amazon’s Prime Video particularly increased among the Britons TalkTalk has dubbed “silver surfers.” 41% of over 65s say they now stream more content than they did before the pandemic, and more than half (54%) report that streaming video content is now one of their favourite hobbies.

So what are pensioners viewing? More than half (54%) of older streamers have watched BBC’s police drama Line of Duty on iPlayer. Other popular iPlayer fare included historical drama Peaky Blinders (viewed by 41%) and the steamy adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People (7%). Popular Netflix programmes were The Crown (47%), Squid Game (33%), The Queen’s Gambit (21%), and Tiger King (9%).

Somewhat surprisingly, online gaming is all the rage among pensioners: 12% of people over 65 report that they’ve taken it up since the pandemic. Their favourite games? The unflashy classic Minecraft (82% of OAPs who reported gaming) but also the Zoomer sensation Fortnite (78%).

But the internet isn’t just for entertainment for older Britons. A third (32%) of TalkTalk's silver surfers use it for personal administration, including banking and managing their utility accounts, while nearly double (61%) that figure shop online.

Overall, 37% of Britons over 65 say they now lead a more “digitally savvy lifestyle” than before the pandemic. 

And with their appetite for data-intensive activities like video streaming and online gaming, it’s unsurprising that 67% say that fast, reliable and affordable broadband is crucial to their day-to-day lives. That means 20% plan to upgrade their broadband package in 2022 to accommodate their new habits.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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