The fastest-growing band of Internet users and major beneficiaries today are not the yuppies and techno trendies but the retirees and senior citizens of the world.
Today you rarely hear comments like: ¬ďI can¬ít. I don't know how. It¬ís too expensive. It's not for me. I can't even set the video timer.¬Ē
Surprisingly there are masses of senior citizens (silver surfers) online having a whale of a time. They've mastered the technology and there's no holding them back. The web is made for you, believe me. With more time on your hands than others, and faster and cheaper connection charges, senior citizens are rapidly discovering the power and benefits of online services.
More time allows almost a hyper-speed learning experience. Consumers spend sufficient time online to pack a year's worth of online experience into a few months. Communications technology can provide productive leisure activity, and that aspect is ideally suited to retired people who have the time to exploit it.
We are experiencing a sea change in older people's attitudes to the Internet. The Web can play a major part in improving their quality of life, giving quicker and easier access to vital information, including mobility, transport and health. Silver surfers and retirees have adapted rapidly to the online world and, as a result, offer a vast and untapped e-commerce market for online firms.
High-income pessimists have started to begin using the Web, discovering the experience is much more attractive than they had imagined.
Online games are surprisingly, popular with pensioners. A recent survey showed that almost a third of the 65-plus age group had played over the Internet against other players from all over the world compared with just 22 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds. The impact of children and grandchildren communicating via email will spur the uptake of the Internet among the over-55s.
The addicts use the Internet six or seven days a week, increasing the opportunity for online businesses to engage with them through advertising. As they pick up speed, users will come to expect higher functionality and better service. More and more online retailers and service providers are turning their attention to silver surfers because of the amount of time they spend online and therefore are more likely to buy or use their services.
The online commerce sites geared towards older audiences focus on the travel services, and financial management, communication aids, and health care. Private information sources also exist on the web to meet the needs of older people and their families.
In contrast, the Alzheimer web home page, http://dsmallpc2.path.unimelb.edu.au/ad.html, run by Australian David Small without commercial sponsorship, provides links to Alzheimer¬īs Associations around the world, as well as a chat forum, a list of current research, publication links, and news items.
¬ďLifestyle management portals" - online personal assistants - give older Web users an online experience they value and help open up access to their high online spending potential. Ironically the service providers and retailers face an ongoing problem for an ever-increasing demand for higher quality content and range of services.
Maintaining attention, repeat visits - the lifeblood of any web site - will only increase if sites are of obvious quality and relevance to everyday use by these increasingly selective customers.User loyalty will be reinforced only through a much more personalised and proactive service.
Fear of technology is no longer an issue. Recently retired people have had access to computers as part of their daily lives at work. The future is very bright because the number of users will go on increasing and will become much more powerful. The benefits and are so numerous it¬ís no wonder we are seeing such a massive growth
Why is the web so useful to silver surfers? Because of its valuable access to empowering Information:
Will the web be the death of traditional media? I don¬ít think so. I feel that the web-based information and supply of services will become as everyday as TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. They will coexist in harmony. Each medium will join together where the method of delivery is most appropriate to the users¬í needs, lifestyles and time frame.
Horses for courses: If you want to find out, say, a taxi service number the easiest and quickest way is to pick up a phone directory, but if you want to find out the best prices for insurance then clearly the web is the most efficient medium. Consumers are finding out the benefits and limitations of each medium and using which is most appropriate.
New to the web?
Dive in and get surfing: My advice for people just starting to go online Is to find a practical site, or one where someone monitors what's going on. Trial and error is probably the best way to learn, and it¬ís the way I cut my teeth. However to make your lives a little easier try these sites for size and see what suits you.
Remember, we at Web Express try to bring you the best information. If you have any suggestions please let us know on our web site.
In the meantime, power to you all and enjoy the surf.