Digital Exclusion is the term used to describe large portions of the population who are prevented from fully interacting with society due to either a lack of access to connected technology or a lack of skills in using these devices.
It is all too easy to assume that something is easy to access, and the pandemic has shown how essential digital connectivity is to society. From home working to socialising, from shopping to hobbies and interest groups, accessing the internet has never been more fundamental.
We have come a long way in the last ~30 years, and the pace of change is increasing. To some of us, it seems like only yesterday that we were fighting over the telephone line and using 14.4kbps modems that screamed like tortured robots, or loading games from audio cassettes (which also screamed like tortured robots - maybe there is a connection here) and then failed for no apparent reason.
Of course, some people have grown up with the internet as a default standard - always there, always on. The child with the iPad is simply the child with the VHS from the 80's. Happy to press buttons and see what happens.
Then there are the people who experienced the digital revolution whilst they were in education. These people have learnt to access the information they wanted, with peers supporting their learning. They are the parents of the iPad generation, to whom digital connectivity is an assumed right.
We then have the parents of those 70/80's children - who were brought up being careful around expensive items lest they brake them. Who don't like pressing buttons to see what happens, because they have neither the skills nor the confidence to troubleshoot any problem. They rely on their children and grandchildren to help.
However, none of these groups are all knowing, and people fall through the cracks. Technology changes at a rapid pace and it is difficult to keep up - especially when you are on a budget.
So how do we address this? There are night classes at local colleges, but they are not always accessible. People may feel intimidated because they feel they "should" know how to use a device.
They may have specific questions which a group learning session cannot solve.
Or, they may not be able to afford a device.
You can make a difference, use your skills, volunteer your time, donate your old hardware, or maintain and fix your own kit.
As the advert says, EVERY LITTLE HELPS!