How much and how often you use the internet is a useful insight into who is digitally excluded. This gives us a way of assessing how the internet is impacting people’s lives – so how they are applying their basic digital skills to their lives or not.
Today, we’ve launched new research that for the first time breaks down the demographics of people who are not getting full benefit from the internet – either because they’re complete non users, or that they’re using the internet in a limited way – be it only using one site or a couple of apps, or going online less than once a week.
The demographics of these people don’t really come as any surprise – 90% of non users are likely to be disadvantaged – which takes into account poor health and disability, social class and those who left school at 16 or under. 48% of non users and 47% of limited users have a long standing health issue or disability, 50% of non users are in social class DE, and 38% of limited users.
I’m thrilled that this new analysis is helping to build a fuller picture of what it means to be digitally excluded. We know basic digital skills is a big issue (18% of people say they aren’t online as they don’t have the skills), but it’s not the only measure of whether people are digitally excluded. Looking at usage helps us to show that digital exclusion is a much more complex issue.
For people to thrive in today’s increasingly digital world, using the internet on a regular basis and using the breadth of what’s on offer is vital. For most people, this means at least every day, if not several times a day. This might be to keep an eye on your bank balance, check on the price of your utilities, or to find work. Most people in work are using the internet on a daily basis. If people aren’t using the internet weekly, they’re likely to be excluded in a range of ways – including having less money available, fewer opportunities to find work, and less access to information that might make their lives better – such as health information, information to help their children with their homework, and more. So the way people are using the internet – how much and how often – is vital to understand whether they’re really getting the benefit they could be.
Segmenting non and limited internet users from Good Things Foundation
This analysis opens up lots of new questions and areas of work we’re keen to investigate – and understanding why people are non or limited users, and how we can better support them to thrive is going to be key.
Although we already support non and limited users through our work, and through the Online Centres Network, this new analysis will help further inform how we support these groups. It will help us to work with government and corporate partners to understand issues of digital exclusion and how together we can support it. We’re delighted BT have supported us to carry out this research, and we enjoyed working with Professor Simeon Yates to get the analysis right. We’re hoping to continue working with BT to take this further, to empower more people to have better lives and realise the opportunities the big wide web has to offer. We’re keen to hear from anyone else who wants to get involved.