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Helping Internet Non Users & The PC Illiterate

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

PC & Microsoft basics – it’s never too late to get started

With more of us forced to run our lives online and out of our comfort zone as a result of the pandemic, there are many new IT users out there across the generations who have never got to grips with PCs or the Internet and perhaps feel too embarrassed to reach out. IT training doesn’t need to be complex or about mastering the more advanced elements of a programme. Actually starting from scratch and understanding the basics is crucial to build confidence and competency.

10% of Us Are Not Equipped For Using The Internet

As stated by the office of national statistics, in an increasingly digital age, those who are not engaging effectively with the digital world are at risk of being left behind. Technological change means that digital skills are increasingly important for connecting with others, accessing information and services and meeting the changing demands of the workplace and economy. This is leading to a digital divide between those who have access to information and communications technology and those who do not, giving rise to inequalities in access to opportunities, knowledge, services and goods.

The number of adults who have either never used the internet or have not used it in the last three months, described as “internet non-users”, has been declining over recent years, but it is far from being eradicated. Since 2011, this number has almost halved, but in 2018 there were still 5.3 million adults in the UK, or 10.0% of the adult UK population, in this situation.

Categorising what it means to be a competent internet user has been loosely defined by the following terms:

  • managing information: using a search engine to look for information, finding a website visited before or downloading or saving a photo found online.

  • communicating: sending a personal message via email or online messaging service or carefully making comments and sharing information online.

  • transacting: buying items or services from a website or buying and installing apps on a device.

  • problem solving: verifying sources of information online or solving a problem with a device or digital service using online help.

  • creating: completing online application forms including personal details or creating something new from existing online images, music or video.

Why does digital exclusion matter?

The internet is being used increasingly across all areas of life. Digital technology offers a number of benefits to the individual, which those who are digitally excluded are missing out on.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) have identified five areas in which individuals who acquire basic digital skills are able to benefit:

  1. earnings benefits: these relate to increased earnings of between 3% and 10% through acquiring digital skills.

  2. employability benefits: this reflects the improved chances of finding work for someone who is unemployed and an increased likelihood that someone who is inactive will look for work.

  3. retail transaction benefits: shopping online has been found to be 13% cheaper on average than shopping in-store.

  4. communication benefits: basic digital skills can enable people to connect and communicate with family, friends and the community 14% more frequently.

  5. time savings: these relate to the time saved by accessing government services and banking online rather than in person, estimated to be about 30 minutes per transaction.

Who needs help?

Whilst it is true that the weighting of those more likely to be digitally excluded are in the older age category, it’s not a catch-all category. There are thousands of younger people who either do not have access to devices due to socio-economic circumstances or perhaps they have been working in roles that are more practical in nature and do not require the use of a PC or the internet for the main part. Most of the population learned their basic adoption of IT skills through education and the workplace, so if you have not had regular participation or either of these settings then it’s all too easy to get left behind.

Helping individuals get up to speed with training

As an IT training company, F1 Computer Services is here to help individuals in their personal lives, not just businesses. We have designed courses to introduce people to PCs for the first time and get under the skin of the basic Microsoft Windows interface and browsing the internet. We’ve seen an upturn in interest in our basic IT skills courses, so have added a couple more to the library in recent weeks. This begs the question: how to reach out to an almost forgotten demographic of users who have never confidently learned how to use a PC and get online?

In a world where communication is almost exclusively digital, with companies not having the same physical reach and networking opportunities in the community since the pandemic, how do we get the message out there? Age related charities are a great place to start and will be able to advise of any local services available. In the meantime please share this post among colleagues and friends who many know someone in this situation who needs support. Contact us for more information about our courses.

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