The number of people over 65 years old accessing the internet has jumped by more than a quarter in the past 12 months, fuelled by a surge in older people using tablet computers.
A report by media regulator Ofcom called Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes found that the proportion of 65- to 74-year-olds accessing the web with a tablet jumped from 5% to 17% between 2012 and 2013.
This surge in tablet usage fuelled a wider boost in the proportion of people over 65 that are accessing the web, up 27% year-on-year to 42%.
While there has been an increase in internet usage by the over 65s, Ofcom found that the older generation are significantly less likely than other internet users to do a range of online activities, including banking (35% compared to 61%), watching or downloading TV programmes or films (25% v 40%) and visiting social network sites or apps (30% v 68%).
Ofcom also found that the over 65s spent less time surfing the web than other generations.
On average, over 65s spend an average of nine hours 12 minutes online a week, which is dwarfed by the average of 24 hours and 12 minutes spent by 16- to 24-year-olds online.
On average, the majority of over 65s use the internet to carry out just two online activities, browsing websites and using emails, which is significantly less than the nine online activities carried out by the majority of adult internet users.
Across devices, the Ofcom research found that computers, laptops, or notebooks are still the most popular way to access the internet, with 78% accessing the internet by these means.
But the use of tablet computers to access the internet among adults has almost doubled from 16% in 2012 to 30% in 2013.
Other key findings from the Ofcom report were that while nearly half (48%) of smartphone users had downloaded an app, two-thirds of the apps downloaded were not regularly used.
On average, smartphone owners have 23 apps installed, but only 10 are used regularly. Comparing media, Ofcom found that TV continues to be the platform adults say they would miss most (42%) if it was taken away, however this varies by age.
For instance, people aged between 16-24 are more than three times more likely to miss their smartphone (47%) over TV (13%). But the majority of people aged 65 and over say they would miss watching TV the most (68%).