There are still over 20% of Australians who have not ever used the Internet. 10% is due to factors such as age (too young) and cannot be ameliorated. But 10% are not using the Internet because they do not have computer or Internet access or more importantly the skills to go online. These people are the socially and economically excluded and are missing all the benefits we take for granted from the online world.
This is particularly hard for the economically disadvantaged as Internet access has been shown to create substantial economic savings to users.
Libraries have always been the prime location for challenging this digital divide. Those who do not have work or home access have been able to use the Internet and in some cases been able to take free classes on its use.
In the UK, there is a new charity called Race Online 2012 which aims to
give Britain’s socially and digitally excluded equal access to the life-changing power of the internet. Our goal is a 100% online and networked UK.
One of the ways they help is to get people to assist other people online. Even if it is just to take someone who hasn’t used the Internet before and put them before this online tutorial.
In Australia, we need to keep addressing this issue also. There are still far too many elderly Australians who feel excluded by technology. Considering the advantages of participation online to assist with loneliness, isolation and lack of mobility (even if it is just online shopping) they are the group most likely to benefit from the Internet.
If you know someone who doesn’t have access to or skills in the Internet, why not find a way to help.