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Internet could help fight loneliness

An Internet entrepreneur claims that elderly people would be less lonely if they were “plugged in” to the Internet. She said that keeping in touch with people over the Internet is not the same as face-to-face contact, but it was still better than being completely alone as many older people are.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2012 20:21 IST

An Internet entrepreneur claims that elderly people would be less lonely if they were "plugged in" to the Internet.



Martha Lane Fox founder of Lastminute.com, now the Government’s "digital champion", said that grandparents could speak to their families over Skype, could order groceries online and learn more about their favourite pastimes.



She said that keeping in touch with people over the Internet is not the same as face-to-face contact, but it was still better than being completely alone as many older people are.



CoupleLane Fox made her comments to mark the launch of her new campaign to get more council housing residents online, the Daily Telegraph revealed.



Her report estimates that as many as half of the 8.7million British people who have never been on the Internet live in social housing.



The sector is home to many of the country’s most vulnerable people, including almost half of all single parents and a fifth of all pensioners, along with many who are disabled or unemployed.



Lane Fox estimates that there would be benefits worth 3.1billion pounds if all of these people were able to access the internet, as many would be able to improve their computer skills and find new jobs, while children would improve their future earnings and adults could save money by paying bills and shopping around for better deals.



Housing associations and councils would also be able to save millions by contacting residents and carrying out transactions over the Internet instead of in person or by letter.



"It’s really empowering individuals," the Telegraph quoted Lane Fox as saying.

“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.”

The report by her campaign Race Online 2012 in association with 15 housing associations, called Digital by Default, cites research which found that as many as 1 million older people said that they are always or often lonely, while 3.1 million do not see family, friends or neighbours once a week.

“I’m not for one minute denying it’s important to have some face to face contact in your life but we’ve got to be realistic about the fact that lots of people don’t.

She said it was “tragic” how many older people will be alone on Christmas Day.

“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 website or have a look at the news,” she added.