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UK oldies go crazy for e-shopping

Fave pastime is frittering away the kids' inheritance

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On-line shopping is the nation's favourite use for a PC, and over-55s are the UK's most frequent computer users, according to an on-line survey sponsored by Microsoft.

Fully 95 percent of over-55s claimed that they went on-line every day, compared to 85 percent of 16-24 year-olds. Indeed, 77 percent of the older group go on-line more than once a day, versus 72 percent of the younger group.

However, those older users are doing quite a bit less with their systems than younger age groups. In just about every category of computer usage, the young are - perhaps unsurprisingly - more enthusiastic.

For example, barely 10 percent of over-55s said they use their computer to watch TV, films and videos, while among 16-24 year-olds the figure was 50 percent.

Similarly, only 20 percent of the older age group has got into social networking, compared to 75 percent of the younger. In particular, 22 percent of 16-24s said they have a blog and almost 60 percent of them visit social networking websites.

The one notable exception was on-line shopping, which Microsoft dubbed "the nation's favourite on-line pastime". It is indulged in by slightly more over-55s than 16-24s - 76 percent vs 74 percent - although the older age group is more reluctant than the younger when it comes to selling stuff on-line as well as buying.

On the risk side, identity theft was the number-one security concern across the whole survey, overtaking the fears of virus attacks and computer crashes.

Mike Haigh, Microsoft's UK Windows marketeer, claimed that the much-hyped security features built into Windows Vista would help here by making technology safer to use.

"For example, there are now in-built safeguards in Windows Vista to recognise fraudulent websites and prevent malicious attacks. We believe Windows Vista will help consumers surf and use their computers with peace of mind," he said.

That's assuming they have all the hardware and drivers needed to run Vista, of course.®

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