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Older Brits Warm to Technology During COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused major disruption across just about every area of our lives, but Britons are uniting around the view that technology can be a force for good.

  • All age groups feel more positively towards technology now than before the pandemic.
  • 71% of those aged 72+ now believe technology has a positive impact on society – a 20% increase since the start of lockdown.
  • Younger people favour social media to stay in touch; but for those aged 39+, a phone call is best.

A recent survey by Vodafone on behalf of Age UK has found that our reliance on technology in order to get by during the COVID-19 lockdown has significantly improved perception of technology across all age groups. Particularly surprising is that the group whose liking for technology has increased the most is the Over 72 bracket, whose positive opinion of technology has increased by nearly 20%.

An increasing reliance on tech

It is thought that the increasing reliance on technology among all age groups during the lockdown, to undertake basic tasks that would usually have been managed offline, has led to the increase in esteem for social media and other online activities. Everything from seeing friends and family, the weekly shop and interacting with banks and government services have been increasingly driven online thanks to the lockdown, forcing older people who usually avoid such things to manage their lives in this way.

What is particularly surprising is the finding that older people have not only made the largest jump in positivity regarding technology, but they are also now the group most positive about technology – more so even than under 23s in Gen Z.

A positive impact on society

All in all, 71% of those aged 72 and over now believe that technology has a positive impact on society, up from 52% in March, the lowest of any age group. This compares with 62% of those aged 18 to 23 (Gen Z), whose perception of technology has only improved by 4% in the same period. Vodafone has been working with Age UK on this research to gather information on the impact of the lockdown on loneliness among older people, an issue that was already an epidemic before lockdown began.

The research confirms the importance of technology as part of any strategy that helps tackle the problem of loneliness among older people, particularly around Loneliness Awareness Week.

Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director for Vodafone UK, commented: “We’ve been working hard to help those who are vulnerable, lonely and isolated during this crisis.

“Initiatives including The Great British Tech Appeal and joining Age UK’s Telephone Friendship Service are small steps in our goal to help to tackle isolation and loneliness, both now and in the future.

“It’s fantastic to see that all age groups think tech is having a positive impact on society during this time; and I’d encourage everyone to keep connecting to those who might be feeling isolated and alone, particularly in Loneliness Awareness Week.”

Combating loneliness with Age UK

The research was carried out by Vodafone via the Vodafone UK Foundation as part of work with Age UK to combat loneliness, particularly among older people. This programme has included giving employees the opportunity to volunteer with Age UK’s Telephone Friendship Service, matching older people and employees with similar interests for a 30-minute phone call each week. This initiative has been launched alongside The Great British Tech Appeal, which redistributes used smartphones to disadvantaged families and support workers to help them fight loneliness.

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