On the Periphery? Understanding Low and Discontinued Internet Use Amongst Young People in Britain
In the UK, the Internet has become an important feature of the lives of the majority of young people for all aspects of their lives. However, there is a significant minority of young people who are not able to navigate or connect properly with the online world. They are, in other words, outside the digital mainstream.
Evidence for this group has been found in nationally representative surveys, where around 10% of young people (aged 17–23) define themselves as lapsed Internet users. That is, they used to use the Internet but no longer do so (OxIS, 2011).
This study aims to find out more about this group. Specifically we aim 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.
This nine month qualitative study investigated these objectives in four overlapping steps: 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 in–depth interviews with young people who consider themselves to be infrequent or lapsed Internet users; and a workshop with key experts in the field.