- 4 updates
ITV News readers have responded to calls for the government to tackle loneliness with internet training, with many welcoming the suggestion but others insisting the net is no substitute for contact with people.
The chronic loneliness some elderly people suffer from can only be relieved by relationships, so if the internet is to help it has "link people to people", Esther Rantzen told Good Morning Britain.
The former TV presenter, who set up a helpline to combat loneliness in the elderly, believed teaching OAPs how to use the internet could help, but warned many felt out of their depth with the technology.
"A lot of the generation that Silver Line works with...are not comfortable with the internet. It frightens them. They think it is a whole new set of skills they have to learn."
The dominance of the internet means it is "vital" everyone has access to the web, the author of a report into loneliness in the elderly has said.
Eddie Copeland, report author for think-tank Policy Exchange, said:
The number of lonely elderly people can be brought down if they are given proper internet training by the Government, a think tank has said.
Policy Exchange said four out of 10 people aged over 65 did not have internet access at home, but training them how to use software like Skype or instant messenger would only cost £141 per person.
The overall cost of education OAPs in how to use the internet, 6.2 million, would be offset by the "huge" economic and social benefits for the UK, the think-tank said.
Tackling isolation could prove to be one of the most effective strategies for countering the rising costs of caring for an ageing population, the think-tank said.
The initial investment in training would be offset by savings of around £1.7 billion a year as people moved to digital rather than paper-based and telephone transactions, it added.