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‘Elderly people ‘disfranchised by social networking’


Elderly people risk being alienated in society as the spread of online social networking threatens to leave them “disfranchised”, the Government’s chief scientist has warned.

Report by The Telegraph Online

The concept of identity in Britain will undergo a major change within the next decade as a generation who grew up with smart phones and online profiles enters adulthood, Sir John Beddington said.

The spread of social media and increasing amount of personal information we put online is redefining the way people see themselves and form social groups, a new report published as part of the government’s Foresight Programme found.

Speaking as the report was launched on Monday, Sir John said there was an emerging “dichotomy” as the way we communicate and form social groups becomes more web-orientated.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Hyper-connectivity, the spread of social media and the increase in online personal information are key factors which will influence identity in the next decade.

“The generation born, who will have grown up with social networking and with a digital age, is starting to turn into adulthood and at the same time you have an older and more elderly population, which arguably could become partly disfranchised.”

The report predicted that having an online presence could become so common that refusal to engage in social networking over the internet “could appear unusual or even suspicious”.

There is a “significant need” for lifelong education which would allow as many people as possible to remain employable and socially engaged, it said.

“As an ageing population and older workforce creates changing identities, inequality in digital knowledge and skills, particularly among older workers and the retired elderly, will need to be addressed.”

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