Plugged-in pensioners challenge technophobic stereotypes

Perceptions that old people are behind the times when it comes to modern technology are outdated according to new research from O2. But, although nearly half (48%) of over-65s feel confident using technology, over three quarters would still like more support in getting to grips with the latest advances, particularly from their peers.

The research is published as O2 launches a campaign to champion the UK’s most tech-savvy grandparents and remove the barriers which are preventing more pensioners from enjoying the benefits of technology.

The study of one thousand 65+ year olds found that more and more pensioners are plugged in to modern technology:
‘ Over three quarters (77%) own home computers, laptops or iPads and over half (55%) say modern technology helps them live life to the full, from using the internet to improve their knowledge base or seek out cheap deals, to keeping in touch with loved ones and developing their photography skills.
‘ Two fifths (40%) say it keeps them young, with technology helping them roll back the years ‘like an anti-ageing cream’.
‘ Nearly one fifth (16%) think their grasp of technology puts teenage whizz kids to shame

However, limits on the help available to older people are creating a digital glass ceiling for many pensioners:
‘ Three quarters (76%) say they get little or no help with learning how to use new technology, leaving over half (52%) lacking the confidence to get to grips with new technology.
‘ The quality of this help is poor too. A third (30%) of pensioners say they are fed up with being patronised, while over half (57%) would rather be helped by their peers than younger people, complaining of ‘too much jargon’ (42%) in stores and shop assistants talking too quickly (41%).

The research, carried out by ICM is published as O2 launches Gurus for Life, a campaign that sets out to identify and champion the nation’s most tech-savvy pensioners who have the ability to inspire others to get the most from technology. O2 is inviting people to nominate their granny or granddad to become their ‘Guru for Life’, who will be deployed in O2 stores and online for a short period this year, providing technology tips alongside the existing O2 Gurus. O2 Gurus offer free, impartial technology advice in store, online or over the phone with the ability to make complex technology easy for everyone to understand. Full details can be found at

The campaign is being backed by Grannynet, an online community for tech-savvy grandmothers. Verity Gill, Founding Director of Grannynet, said: ‘We welcome O2’s Gurus for Life campaign, which confirms what we already knew and what our site proves ‘ many people from an older generation can use technology just as well as their juniors ‘ it’s time people’s perceptions caught up with the reality. Nonetheless, many over 60s are still being left behind, creating a digital divide between those with the confidence to use modern technology and those without it. Without proper, appropriate support, pitched at the right level, many pensioners will continue to feel patronised and alienated.’

Phil Nolan, Guru Leader, O2, said: ‘There are no age limits when it comes to technology. But while many older people are embracing this newly digital world, there are many who can feel alienated by the nature of the help that’s available to them. Gurus for Life is about smashing the stereotype that only teens and twenty-somethings deserve to be able to be use modern tech and championing technology for all.

‘Attracting a wide range of talent is at the heart of our business ‘ whether it’s our O2 Gurus, or those who are developing our new products in new sectors. Talent comes from all walks of life ‘ and we embrace it all.’

Nominations for the Gurus for Life competition are open until August 1st.