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Alone in a Digital World

Lonely woman looking out of her window

We are living in a fast-paced digital world, where almost everything is now online, including banking, shopping and advice. For many, this is a good thing, as it means faster access to services and instant responses to some requests. But what if you cannot get online? We’ve taken a look at some of the reasons why people can’t get online and provide some tips on how to stay connected if you are feeling excluded.

Digital Exclusion

The recent lockdown has highlighted a major divide in our society, with millions of people unable to access critical online services, and millions more restricted by pay-as-you-go services. This digital exclusion can have an impact on your mental state if you are worried about missing out on vital services such as healthcare, education and benefits.

Did you know…?

13% of UK adults do not use the internet

10% of UK households do not have internet access

65% of smartphone users agree that it is more difficult to complete forms on their smartphone than on a computer

53% of internet users aged 65+ are less likely to bank online

(Source: Ofcom Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes’ report 2020)

Restrictions to access

There are many reasons as to why people do not access the internet:

Accessibility: they might not have access via broadband, WiFi or mobile. Even if they do have an internet connection, they may not have a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Confidence: some are afraid of doing something wrong, lack trust or fear being caught out in an online scam.
Motivation: some people simply do not want to go online.

During lockdown, those with no internet connection or who could not afford to keep topping up pay-as-you-go accounts, were left shut in their homes, socially isolated with no means of contacting anyone in the outside world.

I can’t get online and it’s making me anxious. What can I do?

If you cannot access the internet easily and you’re feeling excluded, support is available.

Make a call

Many services still operate a telephone service – lines may be busier than usual during the pandemic, but you can still get through to speak to someone. Just be patient or try to call at different times during the day.

Seek help or training

Many organisations such as Housing Associations, Local Authorities, Job Centre Plus, and regional health associations can often provide advice, guidance or training.

Ask someone

Find a trusted source – seek help from a friend, family member, carer or health worker. Ask them if you can use their internet access sometimes, or get them to teach you how to use the technology properly.

Other useful information…

This story ‘Alone in a Digital World’ was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, twice a year!

If you need additional support, you can refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Posted on: 2nd December 2020

SMART St Mary Abbots Rehabilitation and Training
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