I’m a bit behind as they were released last week, but being a bit of a stats nerd I just wanted to share the latest figures from the ONS which reveal the state of the offline nation, with 15% of adults in the UK (7.4 million people) still never having used the internet – 69% who are over 75, and 53% who have some kind of disability.I’m also very impressed that the ONS have done an infographic to launch the stats last week. It’s always interesting to see these statistics, and of course it’s great news that the numbers of offline people are going down, but it’s important that we remember that these aren’t necessary showing us the full story. There are an additional 8 million who might have been online before, but just don’t have the skills to get any real benefit from the internet. The BBC’s Media Literacy research released last year contains a lot more information about this group. These are the people that it’s important we don’t forget about in the coming months and years, with the launch of Universal Credit, and many more government services that will be digital by default. Just because someone has been online before, or is even able to check their emails and Facebook, doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to complete transactions for Government or be able to check their bank balance or manage their money online. Getting people to use a computer once isn’t enough – we need to make sure we’re supporting them to become confident internet users as well. To this end, we’re launching a new package of courses in April that we hope will become the next step on from Online Basics, supporting people to do the things they need to become real digital citizens – and really take advantage of what the internet can offer. With 53% of people who are offline having a disability initiatives like our Disability Specialist Network still seems like a very good idea. There are many great partners in our disability network, but here are three who are worth a shout out: West Harton Action Station, Cambridge Online, and Sunderland Sandwich Bar who help people with learning difficulty to use the internet. Looks like we’ve all got more to do though if more than half of everyone who has never been online has a disability. It’s only when we support the whole nation to be confident internet users that we can say we’re a truly digital nation.
The problem is that there is a lot of help to initially get people online then – nothing! Nobody to help with problems they encounter so most people give up, they lived without the Internet before so can live without it again.