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Recent research has revealed that older consumers make up almost three-quarters of internet users.

Silver surfers between 50 and 64 now account for 71 per cent of users, one of the major reasons for this being that they embrace the web's ability to help them to remain in contact with friends and family, reports TMCnet.

Other facilities that have proved popular are sites such as Photobucket that allow users to view and post photographs of family members.

However, their use is not limited to the communication with relatives. Many are also using the web to find out about medical conditions and receive support through online forums.

It is thought that the large percentage of broadband subscribers could mean an increased use of voice over internet protocol phone services.

Last year, a study from Ofcom revealed that over-65's spend approximately 42 hours online each month.

These figures show that users of this age are online for an average of four hours more than younger surfers between 18 and 24.

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