E-Commerce minister Stephen Timms, speaking at Friday's e-Inclusion meeting in Crete, urged European member states to do more to encourage older people to get online.

The meeting, set up by the Greek presidency of the EU, was a chance for European ministers to discuss their internet support programmes in a bid to conquer the so-called digital divide.

"Only 17 percent of UK adults aged 65 and over have ever used the internet — compared to 94 percent of people aged 16 to 24. What is more, nearly half of the UK's disabled population are over 65," said Timms.

The DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) highlighted motivation as the main barrier to internet use. A massive 49 percent of those people who do not have internet access said they felt it had nothing to offer them.

But John Fisher, chief executive of charity Citizens Online stressed the wealth of information and opportunities the internet has to offer for senior citizens.

"The internet enables research into interests, hobbies, family histories etc at the touch of a button. Access to the web also means access to important advice on government services such as healthcare," he added. "It is important older people have the opportunity to get online."

Timms used the event to announce the government's public awareness campaign — starting in May — which will push the benefits of the internet and advertise the UK's 6,000 online centres.