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New report challenges the assumption that all young people are digitally savvy
A new report commissioned by the Nominet Trust shows that 10 per cent of all young people aged between 17 and 23 years old rarely use the internet, if at all. It also revealed that some of those surveyed were embarrassed to admit to even friends that they didn’t understand how to use the internet properly and some were unable to use email.
The research ‘On the periphery? Understanding low and discontinued Internet use amongst young people in Britain’, conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, reveals that those young people who rarely use the internet lack the skills, motivation or simply don’t have access to the internet to use it.
The study launched today coincides with the opening of a national exhibition of photography Our Digital Planet which will visit cities around the UK and showcase images of how the internet has had an impact on people’s lives. The exhibition includes an image submitted by amateur photographer Brian Smith from Clackmannanshire, Scotland following a UK-wide competition that invited the public to share what the internet means to them via photography. The winning image entitled Cloud computing provides a view on the world from Brian’s alfresco office – where he enjoys a pleasant afternoon working in the sunshine while listening to digital radio all thanks to the internet.
Nominet Trust’s aim in running the exhibition is to highlight the value of the internet to all – including those young people who are currently unable or unwilling to use it. In each location there will be an Internet Station where volunteers will help people to develop the skills to use and understand the internet.
Annika Small, Director of Nominet Trust said: “The report shows that the widely-held assumption that all young people are digitally literate and able to navigate the internet meaningfully is inaccurate. This is something we urgently need to address if we are to support young people to cope with - and contribute to - a complex, global and digital society.
“The study also highlighted that it is often those young people with low literacy levels who don’t use the internet, either because of lack of skills or lack of access. In this digital world, we need to ensure that all young people can be confident users of the internet and have access to it and the support needed to develop the skills to be able to use the internet successfully.”
The research suggests that young people without basic educational skills find they are unable to complete internet searches successfully, usually because of low literacy levels. The cost and a lack of access to the internet also play a huge part in them not being able to successfully use the internet.
Most of the young people identified as discontinued internet users were currently unemployed and a number of them had not finished secondary education.
To find out more about Nominet Trust’s Our Digital Planet exhibition please visit: www.ourdigitalplanet.co.uk
Notes to editors
- According to the study, around 10 per cent of the 17-23 year olds questioned in nationally representative surveys said they were ‘lapsed internet users’
- The nine-month qualitative study is based on a review of academic literature and 26 in-depth interviews with young people who consider themselves infrequent or lapsed internet users. It also includes the findings of a workshop with key experts in the field
- A copy of the full research can be downloaded from the Nominet Trust website
- A selection of images from the Our Digital Planet exhibition including the winning competition entry can be requested via Munro &Forster
- The Our Digital Plant exhibition will visit:
- Brighton: Thursday 16th August - Monday 3rd September
- Bristol: Wednesday 5th September - Monday 24th September
- Cardiff: Wednesday 26th September - Monday 15th October
- Liverpool: Wednesday 17th October - Sunday 4th November
- Dates for Glasgow coming soon
 Oxford Internet Institute – On the periphery? Understanding low and discontinued Internet use amongst young people in Britain
 Oxford Internet Institute – Qualitative Study