John Yates is not one of the 70 per cent of pensioners who have never used the internet, but he refuses to do anything other than email family online.
For John, 80, it is a matter of trust. A few years back, a doctor lost personal medical information of his, and this has had a profound effect on the information he is now willing to give out.
The former British Leyland worker said: “These medical records have never been discovered and it is vital information on my life that is in someone else’s hands.
“This obviously makes me very cautious when I am put in a situation where people want information about me.”
For John, dealings with banks are done face to face, rather than at a computer desk. Buying insurance, online shopping and any other activity which many people do at a click of a button to save money and time is something that he simply wouldn’t do out of choice.
“Whenever you put details online, there is someone at the other end who can view your information. This is what I don’t like.
“There have been lots of cases where laptop computers have been left in the back seats of cars and someone has stolen them. I do not trust people with my information.”
Mr Yates, who lives with his 88-year-old wife Violet in Short Heath Road, Erdington, Birmingham, is also worried about the cost implications of going online.
“For someone at my age, trying to live day-by-day with rising bills, another £30 a month to pay for the internet is a luxury that I cannot afford,” he said. “I simply cannot afford that privilege and that is probably the case with most people my age.
“I do feel excluded. But what can I do about it when the alternative is paying money each month that I cannot afford.” Connecting his house to the internet should be a straightforward exercise for Mr Yates, who owns a laptop. But he prefers to use his own equipment to write the occasional letter and he will travel to Erdington library if he wants to send an email.
“I would just use the phone to communicate with people,” he said. “And besides, laptop computers can be really ‘niggly’ to use for people of a certain age.”
David Sinclair, head of policy for Help the Aged, said no progress has been made in getting older people online and he is calling on the Government and industry to help get nearly seven million pensioners switched on for the first time.
He said: “Exclusion from modern society is increasingly less about being able to get to the library and more about being able to access the rivers of information flowing in and out of British homes each day.
“If you cannot access these rivers you cannot take part.
“This is not only about getting cheap car insurance online. It is about equality in the marketplace. We know internet access can mean a difference of hundreds of pounds over the year from deals on utility bills, food to all other manner of other goods.
“In a time when costs are rising should we not allow the poorest among us a chance to keep afloat?
Mr Sinclair said a fifth (21 per cent)of older people have told Help the Aged that they wanted to learn more about the internet and new technology.
He added: “It is time for industry to deliver more accessible and usable technologies, which will allow them access to a huge market.
“The Government needs to invest in education and access to hardware, or see a technological divide enforcing these economic inequalities.”