A significant minority of people have still never been online, with most of them showing no interest in changing the situation, according to a newly published survey.
Figures from the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), which commissioned the research by ComRes, show that 8.4% of almost 1,000 adults have never used the internet, and 75% of those said they have no interest in doing so.
The report from the research says this disproves the assumption that everybody wants to be online: 60% of the non-users cited a lack of interest being behind their decision not to use the internet, and 93% of non-users said they were unlikely to start using it in the future.
Its findings reinforce the point that there is a section of the public that is unlikely to get to grips with online services, an issue that has to be taken into account as the public sector moves towards a dominant emphasis on digital channels.
Need for support
It is also notable that 37% of survey respondents said they sometimes get other people to do things online on their behalf, and 31% said they would like to be able to use the internet but feel unable to. This can support the rationale for continuing to provide support for people wishing to develop basic digital skills.
Matthew Evans (pictured), chief executive officer 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% 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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