August 24th, 2012 by Tim Greenhalgh
The Nominet Trust research paper just published is an excellent document that can help us develop more inclusive strategies for UK youth.
It is iconoclastic and rightly points to the deficiencies that help to exclude a significant number of British youth from the internet. It pulls no punches. Witness this:
â€œThe widely held and very powerful assumption by government, commercial organizations and the wider public that all young people are frequent and confident users of the Internet is inaccurate.
â€œHowever, this public assumption that the current generation of youth is â€˜born digitalâ€™ is so powerful that it has informed numerous policies and initiatives that determine young peopleâ€™s lives.â€
The starting point was evidence found in nationally representative surveys, where around 10% of young people (aged 17â€“23) define themselves as lapsed Internet users. That is, they used to use the Internet but no longer do so (OxIS, 2011).
On the Periphery? Understanding Low and Discontinued Internet Use Amongst Young People in Britain, is essential reading for everyone working in online engagement, not least because it has strong statistical relevance.
The study took nine months and focused on qualitative data through a literature review of academic research and policy documents; analysis of the Oxford Internet Survey (2011) and the Learner and their Context Survey (2009), which contain valuable information on lapsed Internet users; 36 inâ€“depth interviews with young people who consider themselves to be infrequent or lapsed Internet users; and a workshop with key experts in the field.
The study sought to:
- Examine why young people are outside the digital mainstream, and determine the extent to which this is due to reasons of exclusion or choice.
- Explore the implications this has in their daily lives.
- Consider how the experiences of these young people can inform the digital inclusion strategy in the UK.
Iâ€™d advise careful reading of the report because it has a wealth of knowledge and information. You can download it here. And maybe we can think about helping these young people to build their social capital.
The study recommends the following:
- Facilitate connections between young people who used to be outside the digital mainstream and those who are currently still living outside the digital mainstream.
- Allow for the possibility that young people may need support in using the Internet and enable young people to identify problems with their skill sets that they have with going online
- Improve the quality of physical access to computers and the Internet for these young people.
- Move forward with educational initiatives to ensure all young people have an opportunity to fully explore the online world and develop all the skills needed to support that process while in education.
Ten per cent disconnected UK youth is too much â€“ we should make that 9 per cent less. What do you think?