Elderly less lonely if they use the Internet more

Nov. 26, 2011 at 6:26 PM
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LONDON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- British Internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox says elderly people would be less lonely if they were online more.

Lane Fox, founder of Lastminute.com, said elderly people could speak to their families over Skype, shop for groceries and learn more about things they enjoy, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

Lane Fox is launching a campaign to get more people who live in subsidized housing involved online. She estimates about half of the 8.7 million Britons who have never been online live in such housing.

"It's really empowering individuals. You are more likely to be in education and get better grades if you are online, you are more likely to get a job, you will save money, you will feel more connected and less lonely and more confident," Lane Fox told the Telegraph.

Although Lane Fox admits the need for face-to-face contact, she explained the benefits are more substantial.

"They don't have to be alone. Of course it's not the same as face-to-face contact, but do you feel a bit more connected and less lonely when you know you can have a look on a social networking Web site or have a look at the news, of course you do," she said.

"I find it sometimes staggering that people who are busy on their devices 27 hours a day say 'this is terrible.' This is just about leveling the playing field for people."

Lane Fox has suggested it would help if housing associations provided free Internet connections throughout their buildings, though she adds the cost and availability are not the primary reasons people do not use the Internet.

"The biggest reason that we've seen is that people just don't see the benefit," she said. "That's good news, in a funny way, because that's the easiest to crack."

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