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BT Group teams up with Susie Dent to tackle online jargon for older people

  • BT Group has created a Digital Dictionary with lexicographer Susie Dent, after finding one in six older people feel “baffled” by digital terms
  • 11% of respondents think a foreign language would be easier to learn than online jargon
  • The Digital Dictionary is available at

BT Group has teamed up with lexicographer and queen of Dictionary Corner Susie Dent to create a Digital Dictionary, in order to help older and digitally excluded people get a better understanding of online jargon.

New research conducted by BT Group found that one in six older people admit to feeling “baffled” by digital terms, and 78% feel left behind by their lack of knowledge. In response, Susie Dent, BT Group and UK charity AbilityNet have partnered to create the Digital Dictionary, which identifies the most commonly misunderstood words used on the internet, and provides simple explanations.,

The Dictionary contains 21 words in total, including the likes of hyperlink (41% misunderstood), QR code (24%) and the cloud (23%). Lack of understanding around these common online terms creates a significant issue, with the survey of 2,000 older people finding that even though they spend just five and a half hours a week online, over half (55%) wish that they were more knowledgeable when it comes to using the internet.

38% of older people said they experienced feelings of frustration when unable to understand digital terms, and in fact, over one in 10 respondents think online terms are so complicated that a foreign language would be easier to learn.

Furthermore, 16% of people worry that others will see them as a ‘burden’ if they ask for help, especially as over one in ten (16%) admit that family members have got irritated when having to explain to them.      

Lexicographer, Susie Dent said: “Whilst so much of modern life seems easier online – whether that’s booking a doctor’s appointment, managing your finances, or doing the weekly shop – we’re forgetting one crucial thing: it’s only easier if you understand the language the web is built on.

So, I’ve teamed up with BT Group and AbilityNet to create this Digital Dictionary, a guide that simplifies the language of the internet, with the aim of helping us all make the most of life in an online world.”

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Campaigns Director, BT Group said: “It’s a shame to see from the research that older adults feel they are a burden when asking for help navigating their way online. We want to create a more inclusive society by helping them make the most of life in the digital world.

We hope that both the Digital Dictionary and variety of online guides on offer will give people the confidence to start exploring the internet and give them all the training and support needed to live life to the fullest in the digital age.”

Sarah Brain, Free Service Manager at AbilityNet said: “For anyone who didn’t grow up with smartphones or super-fast broadband, being online can feel like a whole new world to some. Resources such as the Digital Dictionary are helping to address the need to support older generations towards understanding ever-changing online jargon.”

Earlier this year, BT Group announced a new partnership with the charity AbilityNet to help improve the digital skills of 4,000 older and digitally excluded people across the UK in 2023. The ‘Senior Skills’ programme will deliver more than 1,000 group and one-to-one training sessions to those who need it most in regions across the UK.

As part of Senior Skills, BT Group has created a variety of online guides that will help give anyone the knowhow and confidence to start exploring the internet, whilst inspiring them to unlock the possibilities from using it. Each guide comes with both a digital helper section (for the volunteer) and a learner section too, which can easily be downloaded and printed at home for convenience.        

Visit to view the Digital Dictionary and find all the training and support needed to live life to the full in the digital age.

Research of 2,000 older people revealed the top 30 online jargon they don’t understand:

  1. Smishing
  2. Vishing
  3. Hyperlink
  4. USB-C
  5. Ransomware
  6. URL
  7. Phishing
  8. QR code
  9. Cloud
  10. Malware
  11. IP address
  12. Cookies
  13. Streaming
  14. Tabs
  15. Processor
  16. Spam
  17. Antivirus
  18. Hardware
  19. Browser
  20. Upload
  21. USB
  22. Social media
  23. Emoji
  24. Webpage
  25. App
  26. Google
  27. Download
  28. Search Engine
  29. Software
  30. Smartphone

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 three customer-facing units: Business covers companies and public services in the UK and internationally; Consumer serves individuals and families in the UK; Openreach is an independently governed, wholly owned subsidiary wholesaling fixed access infrastructure services to its customers - over 650 communications 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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