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      Inhibiting the Digital Realm

      In our modern-day world, digital technology plays a very complacent part where its functionality is something that a lot of us rely on for everyday living and work.  However, not everyone is up to speed with the rate at which digital technology powers our lives and have ended up facing digital exclusion.

      What is digital exclusion?

      Digital Exclusion is the inability to get online, to connect with the digital world and with other people. People who might find themselves in this situation could be those that cannot afford the expense of a mobile phone or computer. If you are a part of the elderly community, it could mean you have not been introduced to the technicalities of the digital world. Both situations could make you feel secluded amongst your own family and friends. Across the UK alone, there are 3 million people offline (1) with 32% of these people being aged 50-69 and 67% are aged 70 or over (2).

      To feel digitally included, yes, we need to help get those who want to be online, into the digital world. But we also need to go above and beyond that. We need to give people the confidence to learn new digital skills and create habitat within the digital realm so that connecting with others is as easy as possible.

      Confidence when entering the digital world

      Entering the digital world for the first time is like a pixelated paradise where the world is your oyster. But it can be hard to grasp if there’s no one to show you where to begin.

      When beginning your journey into the digital world it’s important to remember:

      • Confidence in believing you are capable is vital for success.
      • The digital world is constantly adapting and changing to improve the user experience. Which means everyone is learning something new in this world daily, no matter how much experience they may have.
      • Learning digital skills will speed up the way you get around the digital world.
      • Keep an open mind. You can teach yourself a lot more about something than you may think. But, how?

      Owning your digital superpower

      Amongst the digital world there’s 6 digital qualities that help enhance your digital confidence: adaptability, curiosity, critical thinking, problem-solving, patience and empathy. Often, it’s likely that one of these is your ‘digital superpower’.

      To help you figure out what your digital superpower is, it’s important to look at yourself and what your approach to daily activities is like. For example, if your digital superpower is critical thinking then you will have the tendency to be curious about your surroundings whilst thinking analytically of them and with total honesty. Once you’ve realised your digital superpower, you can use its strength to help carry you around the digital world and learn a whole range of digital skills.

      If you know someone facing digital exclusion or would like to help those in need you can donate to the Mental Health Foundation which helps the Picture This project run. The Picture This project is a digital creative program that is designed to help people in later life who are experiencing digital exclusion to be digitally included.

       

      (1) https://www.iriss.org.uk/resources/esss-outlines/digital-inclusion-exclusion-and-participation

      (2) https://ageing-better.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-07/COVID-19-and-the-digital-divide.pdf

       

      Priya Patel

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