BSG Report; Digital Exclusion Research

BSG Report; Digital Exclusion Research

The Broadband Stakeholder Group has today published a report looking into digital exclusion, unpicking the rationale behind the 8% of the UK population who have never been online. ComRes, who carried out the research, undertook both qualitative and quantitative research, surveying both the recently on-liners as well as the non-users.

Reaching nearly 1000 respondents, the research is able to paint a fairly detailed picture of those who claim to have ‘no interest’ in using the internet (60%) with over nine in ten stating that they would be unlikely to start using the internet in the future. Whilst around half of the non-users are ‘proud’ not to use the internet, 78% of those who had recently moved on line would recommend it to family and friends who are still offline.

Further barriers to take up include internet safety, security and privacy fears (three-quarters of respondents) and a similar proportion citing a lack of skills and a lack of interest in any online service.

The lack of skills and confidence in ability to learn how to use the internet is further compounded by a low awareness of what schemes are available to them, with family and friends the most trusted to teach.

Matthew Evans, CEO of the BSG, said “This report shines a light on some of the reasoning behind why some people are choosing not to move online. It also raises the question of what the overarching policy goal should be – do we want to ensure that everyone who is able to be online, can be? Or should everyone who is able to be online, be online?

“This is important because if the former is the main issue then we are nearing the maximum penetration of online services, whilst not losing sight of the 30 per cent of non-users who want to use the internet but don’t feel able to. If it is the latter, then we need to balance the potential negatives or such a policy push; shifting physical services online may end up depriving socially isolated people of a valuable face-to-face interaction.

“In addressing either question, the report is clear that there is no simple solution available to policy makers. Increasing internet adoption will require education, skills training but ultimately convincing people of the utility of online services. The BSG will continue to explore this area as part of our research programme.”

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