The scary cost of not being online
As the number of people who are online continues to rise, there are still millions of people who are left digitally excluded from society. The gap between these two groups is what is called the digital divide.
The digital divide can have significant social, economic, and political implications. It can limit access to education, job opportunities, healthcare, government services, and information. Reducing the digital divide is a priority for many governments and organisations globally to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities in the digital age.
The Good Things Foundation, a social change charity whose mission is to fix the national digital divide for good, has reported and commissioned new research that has revealed that 38% of the UK think the biggest barrier to them getting online is not knowing how to use the internet or digital services. The research also reported that 22% of people are afraid of giving their personal data online and are scared of being scammed.
BT research has showed that the majority (79%) of financially vulnerable people now rely on broadband connectivity to manage day to day and household finances, as being online can save the average consumer £900 a year.
Here are some of the key costs associated with not having internet access or digital connectivity:
|1) Limited access to information||The internet is a vast source of information on virtually every topic. Not being online means missing out on access to news, educational resources, research materials, and other valuable information.|
|2) Limited educational opportunities||Many educational institutions use online platforms for classes, assignments, and resources. Without internet access, individuals may find it challenging to access educational materials or pursue online courses and degrees.|
|3) Reduced job opportunities||Online job searches, applications and networking have become the norm in the job market. Being offline can limit the ability to search for job openings, submit applications, and connect with potential employers.|
|4) Economic disadvantages||The digital economy plays a significant role in today's business landscape. Being offline can hinder individuals from participating in online businesses, e-commerce, and remote work opportunities.|
|5) Social isolation||The internet has become a primary means of social interaction for many people. Not being online can lead to social isolation and a reduced ability to connect with friends and family, especially in a globalised world where loved ones may be scattered across the globe.|
|6) Healthcare access||Telemedicine and online health resources have become increasingly important, especially during a health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Without internet access, individuals may have limited access to healthcare information and remote medical consultations.|
|7) Financial disadvantages||Online banking and financial services are a common way for people to manage their finances. Not having access to these services can lead to inconvenience, higher fees, and limited access to financial resources.|
|8) Limited civic engagement||Being offline can restrict the ability to participate in civic activities, such as accessing government services and information, registering to vote, or engaging in political conversations.|
|9) Digital divide||Not being online can exacerbate the digital divide, contributing to social and economic inequalities within and between communities. Those without access may fall further behind in terms of opportunities and quality of life.|
|10) Vulnerability||During emergencies or natural disasters, internet access can be crucial for receiving timely information and assistance. Those without access may be at a disadvantage in such situations.|