Personal Hooks The Key To Tackling The Digital Divide In Scotland

February 25, 2015

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  • Finding information on hobbies and interests is a key driver for going online
  • People want friends and family to help teach them digital skills
  • Cost, skills and lack of interest remain major barriers to internet access

Explaining how the internet is relevant to people’s personal hobbies and interests is key to tackling Scotland’s digital divide, according to a new report by the Carnegie UK Trust and Ipsos MORI.

A fifth of households in Scotland currently have no internet access*. However, new research into the reasons behind digital exclusion in Dumfries and Kirkcaldy has found that a major driver for many people going online for the first time is to look up information on topics they have a strong personal interest in.

In Kirkcaldy, 61% of internet users cited this as a critical reason in why they started using the internet, while in Dumfries the figure was 56%.

The value of the internet in communicating with friends and family is also a key factor in boosting digital participation. 37% of non-internet users in Dumfries and 19% in Kirkcaldy who said they would otherwise have no interest in using the internet highlighted keeping in touch as a reason why they might consider going online.

The research found that family and friends can also play a vital role in helping people learn digital skills. 71% of internet users in Kirkcaldy and 58% in Dumfries said that they received help from family members or friends when they first started using the internet.

Amongst non-internet users, 78% in Kirkcaldy and 58% in Dumfries said that they would like help from friends or family if they were to go online in future.

The new report follows previous research undertaken by the Carnegie UK Trust and Ipsos MORI, which examined the digital divide in Glasgow.

Douglas White, Head of Advocacy at the Trust said: “The findings from this new research in Dumfries and Kirkcaldy support the results from our original Glasgow study. The key to tackling digital exclusion is starting with the person, not the technology, and understanding what they are interested in and how the internet might be of value and benefit to them.”

Mark Diffley, Research Director at Ipsos MORI who carried out the research said: “The internet is a social tool and the power that it offers in connecting friends and family is another important reason why people may choose to go online. At the same time, learning new digital skills can itself be a social process, and family members and friends can often help each other to get the most out of the internet.”

Other key findings from the research are as follows:

  • 48% of non-internet users in Dumfries and 37% in Kirkcaldy said they would be interested in going online in future
  • 32% of non-internet users in Dumfries and 30% in Kirkcaldy said lack of interest was the main reason for not going online
  • 24% of non-internet users in Dumfries and 20% in Kirkcaldy said they don’t go online because they don’t know how to
  • The average monthly household spend by non-internet users on communications items is £29 in Dumfries and £28 in Kirkcaldy. The UK average is £114.