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Older generation feels “freer” by learning new digital skills


BT Group offers range of resources to help bring independence for the older generation

Nearly one in five over-60s are still struggling to adapt to an online world, according to research from BT Group.

The survey of 1,500 older adults found 39 per cent feel they are anything but ‘tech savvy’, with 18 per cent finding it difficult to get to grips with the online tasks they now have to do day-to-day.

Six in 10 think there’s more pressure on older generations to adapt to using technology because they’ve been familiar with life without it, compared to the younger generations.

As a result, almost half want to learn more tech skills, as 46 per cent feel they have to rely on gadgets and technology on a daily basis.

In the last 10 years, the typical over-60 has learnt 12 new tech related skills including making video calls (47 per cent), online shopping (42 per cent) and how to use QR codes (32 per cent). With one in 10 using tech skills in order to feel less lonely, this festive season is a great time to encourage the older people in your life to learn new things.

Ordering prescriptions (29 per cent), selling things online (22 per cent) and streaming films and TV shows (18 per cent) also featured in the list of modern skills older adults have grown used to.

And 65 per cent believe you are never too old to learn new things.

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Director at BT Group, said: “It’s brilliant to see through this research just how much over 60s have learnt in a short space of time and that they’re keen to keep learning. To date, we’ve helped over 14.7 million people across the UK make the most of life in the digital world thanks to our resources.

“BT Group’s purpose is to connect for good, and one of the ways we do this is by helping older people boost their confidence and understanding of digital tools and technology. To work towards an inclusive digital future for the UK, we need to ensure that everyone is getting the benefits that technology offers.”

The study also found seven in 10 of those polled had to use technology in their most recent job, including emails (69 per cent), spreadsheets (41 per cent) and group chats (19 per cent).

Many felt they have needed to adapt to an online world in order to complete life admin (37 per cent) and stay connected with others (34 per cent).

Of those surveyed 37 per cent said doing so has made their life easier, while 18 per cent said using technology has helped them feel less isolated and lonely.

The typical day sees the older age group spend an average of four hours online, by online shopping (67 per cent), paying bills (62 per cent) and keeping up to date with news (53 per cent).

Whilst  58 per cent taught themselves how to use various devices, 17 per cent took an in-person class and 29 per cent learnt via their child.

More on how BT Group can help with a range of resources can be found here: Helping you learn new digital skills 


  1. Making video calls        
  2. Sending emails              
  3. Online shopping           
  4. Online banking              
  5. Using Google Maps (or similar)            
  6. Sending messages in a group chat      
  7. Taking a photo on a mobile phone      
  8. Using QR codes             
  9. Setting up group chats on apps like WhatsApp and Messenger
  10. How to connect to WiFi            
  11. Using a USB stick          
  12. Ordering online prescriptions
  13. Booking holidays online            
  14. Comparing insurance quotes 
  15. Editing photos on your phone or computer               
  16. Using Bluetooth            
  17. Posting content on social media
  18. Setting up social media accounts        
  19. Making an online reservation 
  20. Selling things online
  21. Downloading a covid ‘pass’
  22. Listening to the radio 
  23. Storing things on the cloud     
  24. Filming a video on a mobile phone      
  25. Choosing a restaurant
  26. Streaming films/TV shows      
  27. Setting up home tech 
  28. Using a smart speaker
  29. Using spreadsheets    
  30. Streaming music           
  31. Ordering food on an app          
  32. Setting up hands free in the car            
  33. Listening to a podcast
  34. Applying for jobs online            
  35. Setting up /using a fitness tracker       
  36. Setting up a VPN          
  37. Creating a reel
  38. Using hashtags on social media            
  39. Using a games console              
  40. Setting up a YouTube channel             


BT Group’s purpose

BT Group’s purpose is to connect for good, and we recognise that we will only succeed if we create products and services that directly address the challenges faced by the communities and customers we serve. BT Group has a long-standing history of being a responsible business. As well as providing essential communications services, we have led on climate action for almost three decades and supported people with their digital skills, most recently through BT Group Digital Skills.

In December 2021 BT Group launched its new Manifesto, BT Group’s agenda for growth. It outlines our ambitious goals for change: our net zero carbon and circular economy pathways; our targets to help build our customers digital skills; our ambition to energise a more diverse digital talent movement. It also includes requirements for bold policy changes to enable this journey.

The BT Group Manifesto incorporates BT Group’s core beliefs and is split into three beliefs – to act more responsibly, create a more inclusive society and be more sustainable. By forming the Manifesto, BT Group is creating a movement to inspire businesses to commit to doing better; enabling the nation to take action on responsible technology, climate change and improving their digital skills.

Find out more about our beliefs here.

About BT Group

BT Group is the UK’s leading provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications and related secure digital products, solutions, and services. We also provide managed telecommunications, security and network and IT infrastructure services to customers across 180 countries.

BT Group consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer serves individuals and families in the UK; Enterprise and Global are our UK and international business-focused units respectively; Openreach is an independently governed, wholly owned subsidiary, which wholesales fixed access infrastructure services to its customers - over 650 communication providers across the UK.

British Telecommunications plc is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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