Understanding social and digital exclusion

Having recently attended an initiative on resolving the digital divide situation I came across some amazing statistics:

  • The proportion of the population accessing the internet has reached a plateau since 2004
  • 39% of people in the UK are still not online – NB This is not the same as the fact that they maybe in easy reach of a Broadband connection if they could afford it!
  • 1 in 12 households don’t have access to a computer, a mobile phone or a Digital television
  • More than 1,000,000 households with children have no internet access. 75% of socially excluded people are also digitally excluded.
  • 79% of those on means tested benefits lack ICT skills
  • 64% of people living in social housing don’t use the internet
  • Although 90% of public services are on-line, approximately 2/3 of the population never use them !
  • Less than 1/3 of those with three or more ‘social’ reasons to contact government are able to do so online

Source: http://www.ukonlinecentres.com/corporate/content/view/3/88/lang,en/

I wondered if this information leads us to consider the definition of social exclusion, especially as the number of times I have heard the words, ‘what is a podcast’ – even though the emergence of RSS and enclosures started in 2002. But it is not just a lack of technical awareness that I’m talking about or even the risk that some CEOs may not wish to entertain when considering new technologies. I’m talking about limited access to technology due to poverty. This access applies both in the developed world and developing world.
There are two types of inclusion to consider: Social and Digital:

First let us consider: What is social exclusion ?
Somebody is socially excluded if they are subject to three or more of the following forms of deprivation:

  • Income deprivation: living in social housing or in a work-less household
  • Employment deprivation: never worked, economically inactive, unemployed, in routine or manual work, in part-time work only or in a work-less household
  • Health deprivation: not working because of poor health
  • Education deprivation: no qualifications
  • Barriers to services: living alone without access to a car, or a lone parent
  • Living deprivation: living alone, or living in crowded housing

Interestingly,  75% of socially excluded people are also digitally excluded

  • Digitally excluded is defined as those who perceive themselves to have no access to the Internet
  • Digitally dismissive is defined as those who have access to the Internet, but chose not to use it for a number of reasons principally that they perceive they have no need to use it
  • Digitally determined is defined as those who have access to the Internet but not at readily accessible locations (such as home and work) and who have to travel to a public access location such as an internet cafe, public library or on-line centre
  • Digitally included included is defined as those who have the desire to use the new technologies and have the access to ICT and have the skills and confidence to use these new tools.
  • Digitally constrained is defined as Internet users (digitally included or determined) but report that they are constrained in what they can achieve by their level of skills and/or confidence.

With regard top the latter point, the path to move to competence can be considered to be based on motivation and training.

I found the statistics fascinating from the perspective that many developed countries can put a lot into building efficiency but must also consider access. Maybe more shared resource centres can help together with merging them with traditional points / channels of delivery.

Overall, there must be an acceptance even though schools can make a generation technically savvy, social and digital exclusion still exists and has many different forms.

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