The digital divide has plateaued but persists for 2.6 million Australians. Who are they, and why are they not online?

Older Australians, migrants, low income people and the unemployed are the stragglers on what was once heralded as the Information Superhighway. While the majority of people in all these groups are online, the proportion that isn't live in an astounding 1.5 million unconnected households. 

There are four main factors that influence digital participation:

  • Access: the need for hardware, an internet connection and the ability to pay for them
  • Motivation: including understanding and appreciation of the benefits
  • Skills: including whether they have any available means of learning ICT skills
  • Confidence: Using technology, and not being put off by fears of fraud and online security.

Being offline, either by choice or not, is increasingly becoming a form of disadvantage in itself. Access to myGov, information for education and cheaper goods are examples of internet uses that give advantages to those online. To be offline is to miss out. Households with an income under $35k are the most excluded, with cost being the biggest factor. Older people are more often lacking the confidence, skills and motivation to be online. Participation has steadily risen over the decades but appears to have levelled out.

See more in The Conversation article Australia’s digital divide is not going away 

 

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