Lack of motivation is a significant barrier to inclusion. Many people don’t realise the benefits of digital inclusion, or are concerned about risks. Motivation issues arise in terms of:
- risks – this relates to both lack of confidence and lack of digital literacy. It’s important that people are supported to gain basic security skills, but also that community solutions are equipped in a manner which protects people (for example by removing temporary files to protect personal data). Many people unused to working with digital technologies, whether their own or provided in communities, are concerned about making mistakes which they worry will ‘break’ the equipment. Solutions for community provision can include software which restores systems to their original state after every reset (like for example the Faronics ‘DeepFreeze’ software which is deployed across the John Wheatley Learning Network for this purpose, which means that if a user changes all the settings or even deletes the Windows directory it can’t do any harm.
- necessity – people who feel forced online, especially in the context of motivators like Universal Job Match, can feel resentment and can experience fear associated with initial engagement (for example, the Connect Community Trust case study includes a report than many in this situation exhibit ‘shaking, sweating and crying’ – but which also reports that after appropriate support people engage with the positive benefits of digital technology on a voluntary basis)
- financial benefits – a useful motivator can be the financial benefits of being online (better information and deals) but a barrier is lack of awareness of this. The Wheatley Group’s Kirkton Avenue study into the benefits of home access demonstrates some of the financial benefits of being online, as does the Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index Report;
- social benefits – as with financial benefits, lack of knowledge about social benefits acts as a barrier to inclusion. Isolation is a significant problem for many, especially older people, and the online world is at times oversold as being part of a ‘global community’. The benefits of being online are significantly more than an opportunity for people to give all their money to Amazon and similar – the Internet is local as well as global, and supporting people to engage locally and socially is important as a motivator (although being able to keep in touch with people who’ve moved away is also important). Local engagement can be through Facebook groups (including those provided by housing organisations and their partners) and community service websites, which can in turn be encouraged through links on housing organisation websites.
- health and wellbeing benefits – again, lack of knowledge about benefits can act as a barrier. In addition to the immeasurable health benefits of the social inclusion which can arise from digital inclusion, the information available from the Internet which supports better health and wellbeing, especially from trusted sources like the NHS. In addition, the benefits of connectivity in terms of ‘telemedicine’ are beginning to be well understood (see Age UK’s Digital Inclusion Evidence Review), and support from housing organisation staff made available through digital technology is highlighted in the Whitcomm case study.