About 7 million old men in the UK will be pushed into bitter loneliness because of growing digitalisation of services. This warning has been sounded out in a research report by the UK based Friends of the Elderly. It estimates that the number of older people feeling lonely is going to increase 40 per cent by 2030.
A report in The Telegraph points to the impending plight of hundreds of thousands of pensioners who will be cut off from government services, shops and local communities in another 15 years because of the rising use of the Internet.
Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister in UK, forewarned recently that in the future, most public services would be delivered on the Internet because that suits people's lives.
Commenting on such a scenario, Steve Allen, chief executive of Friends of the Elderly, noted that persons who are offline would amount to living in a home that has no windows. They will miss out on the vital activities of life; conversations of community; opportunities to buy, sell and socialise.
Friends of the Elderly pointed out that a growing number of banks, utility companies, shops and community groups are already shifting to the web. In terms of numbers, the affected will be 7 million people over the age of 60s, who will be offline at the end of the next decade. At present there are 5.25 million people feeling lonely in their old age who also include unmarried singletons.
Bring them online
Friends of the Elderly called for early remedial action to mitigate loneliness among older people. The digital shift is impacting older people more and puts them at risk of intensified exclusion from the society. If timely steps are not taken to get them online, things will only get worse.
According to a latest news report published by Telegraph, though 22 million households in the UK have broadband Internet connection, some 13 per cent of adults have never used Internet. In such households there are at least one more adults in the age group of 65 and above.
Yet another study, The Future of Loneliness, by the Future Foundation also echoed similar concerns. It noted that the proportion of senior citizens using the Internet at home will rise to 90 per cent by 2030.