What is Digital Exclusion? Broadly defined, digital exclusion is where a section of the population have continuing unequal access and capacity to use Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) that are now becoming essential to fully participate in society. It is a real problem for some of the older generation and many low-income households.
Older people have consistently made up the largest proportion of internet non-users. The pattern of internet use by age is replicated when looking at digital skills (ONS, 2019).
A survey from Citizens Advice Scotland (2018), showed that of respondents aged between 65 and 79 years:
This appears to be fairly typical of the country as a whole.
The government and industry are pushing digital services more and more. Older people are finding life changing faster and faster. Examples of this are Electronic banking, closing cash machines, cheques becoming extinct, two factor authentication for most things. The rise othe web, Zoom calls, NHS and Covid apps. The push to end telephone landlines is happening, the list goes on. See the glossary for simple definitions of what these are. Many individuals cite these changes as progress but there are many people being left behind.
Traditionally we existed with cash, or we posted cheques via Royal Mail and received paper statements when handling money. When we had an issue with a company or council we could actually visit the office or shop and speak to someone face to face. We could simply pick up the phone and speak to someone straightaway who were able to provide good customer service. Some of this still exists but these services are fast disappearing. In Harpenden we have gone from six banks down to probably only one (HSBC) from February 2022.
The need for all households to have an internet connection to be able take part in the digital world is gaining pace. But having an internet connection and then being able to confidently navigate the digital environment is another matter. An important development here is the switch off of the traditional telephone landline in 2025. See here for more information. From then on if you still want a phone in the hallway you will have to have an internet connection.
A PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone are needed – but you need to be able to afford them, have space for them and more importantly to know how to use them – more on that later.
The Covid epidemic has accelerated the business reliance on tech and also highlights some of the pitfalls associated with tech. Most government and customer service staff are now based at home where they in turn rely on connectivity to the systems that let them do their jobs. I have experienced these people having technical problems that prevent them from providing the services that I need. This will probably be the new normal.
The number of adults who have either never used the internet or have not used it in the last three months, described as “internet non-users”, has been declining over recent years (ONS, 2019). But there has been a slowing in the rate of progress in people moving online and gaining basic digital skills.
There are 15.2 million people in the UK who are either non-users, or limited users of the internet (Good Things Foundation, 2017). A report from Citizens Advice Scotland (2018) found almost one in five respondents (18%) reported that they never use the internet.
In 2018, 8% of people in the UK (4.3 million people) were estimated to have zero basic digital skills. A further 12% (6.4 million adults) were estimated to only have limited abilities online (missing at least one of the basic digital skills) (ONS, 2019).
Research from Good Things Foundation and CEBR suggests that at current rates, 6.9 million people will still lack digital skills by 2028 (Good Things Foundation, 2019b).
Access and use of digital devices and the internet are important for helping people stay in touch with friends. It is important for learning new things, and provides access to a wide range of entertainment. But it goes much further than that. Digital inclusion is important for social equality, and to ensure equal access to the many benefits the internet offers
For several years, the focus of digital inclusion support has been on helping people develop basic digital skills.
The Tech Partnership framework lists five as a measure of digital inclusion:
It has been argued that a lack of basic skills may no longer be the crucial barrier as more people have access to, and familiarity with, digital technology, and touchscreens have made technology easier and more intuitive for people to use. Also access to friends and family with familiarity to technology is often on hand.
St Albans District Council recommend Computer Friendly who help people get started using a computer and the Internet. It runs low-cost beginners Courses on Windows, Apple iPad and Android Tablets and Phones to get you started, show you how to get more out of your computer or tablet and build up your confidence.
Their contact details are..
Phone - 020 3239 1559
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, take a look at Age UK here
At N4G we have resources available to help anyone who would like any technical support for computer, internet or mobile phone issues – give us a call.
At Nannies 4 Grannies Ltd we offer Companion Care and Support for residents in St Albans, Harpenden and the surrounding areas. Contact Kay on 01582 764305 to discuss the range of specifically tailored services we can provide for you or an elderly loved one. For full details go to our website Nannies 4 Grannies. Stay up to date with older issues by following us on Twitter or FacebookDigital Exclusion and the older generation