Online world a mystery to many
- Credit: Archant
The scale of the digital divide in Suffolk has been laid bare, with new figures showing that 16% of adults in the county have never been online.
That is one of the highest figures in the country – and is higher than anywhere else in East of England apart from Luton.
The figures come from a new charity Go On UK which is backed by the BBC and the Local Government Association and aims to show up the size of the UK’s digital divide – and looks at ways of tackling the problem. In Essex the proportion of adults who have never been online is 13%, and in Norfolk the figure is just under 15%.
The report also shows that in 2013 13.7% of homes in Suffolk only had access to broadband speeds of less than 2MBpS – although the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign has been increasing the number of homes served by the technology over the last three years. The Go On campaign identifies five separate skills that working online allows:
n Managing information – surfing the web, bookmarking pages, and looking for deals on comparison websites.
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n Communicating – using e-mail, posting on forums, and leaving feedback on company websites.
n Transacting – buying goods online, banking online.
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n Problem solving – using online chats to sort out problems.
n Creating – making a social media post, making and sharing photo albums etc.
The number of people able to use the internet for all these functions varies across Suffolk from 75% in Waveney to 79% in Mid Suffolk.
The number of people regularly carrying out all these functions varies from 36% in Ipswich to 39% in Suffolk Coastal. It may be that Ipswich residents, with the selection of retailers in the town, see less need to shop online.
Older people are one section of the population that sometimes has difficulties getting online – but Age UK is trying to help teach them how to use the technology.
Hannah Bloom, from Age UK Suffolk, said: “With the high population of older people in Suffolk set to rise, Age UK Suffolk is here to support older people access new technology and learn IT skills.
“We are working in partnership with Lexpert to deliver free IT support sessions at our Upper Brook Street charity shop in Ipswich, and continue to work with local schools, inviting schoolchildren to visit our day centres and help older people learn online skills, such as e-mail and Skype.”