Earlier this year, we launched a program in Germany to encourage senior citizens to go online. After spending quality time talking individually with over 800 senior citizens about how older people like to use the Internet, we ran a competition called “We’ll show you! The beautiful sides of the Internet”, together with our partners Deutschland sicher im Netz (Germany Safe Online) and BAGSO (the Federal Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations).

This week, at an awards ceremony at Google’s Berlin office, more than 90 guests from government, civil society and industry celebrated the achievements of the winners. A jury chose the best entrants in three categories - Experience Report, Video and Website - and also gave a special award to three friends who meet online to share presentations and research via online video chat.

We also conducted a survey with our partners, which showed some positive developments - for example, that in the age range 51-85, more than 80% of men and women already use email to communicate with friends and family - and more than 75% use search engines to find information.

In many areas, however, the survey suggested that German senior citizens were not being well served online. Little information exists online on leisure offerings for older generations such as holidays, sport, and fashion. And like senior citizens in the UK, they wanted to see more attention paid to developing online services that enhance social inclusion and improve care for the elderly.

Older people - a long overlooked audience on the Net - are catching on to the possibilities of the online world. We’re committed to helping improve things for them.