The Digital Divide.. Addition to the ITV News Piece from the view of IT Industry

Hey everyone,

We have been so busy here that I have not posted content for a while but whilst watching TV with my parents last Monday evening I saw documentary section that really caught my attention. Maybe this will ring bells with you. If not check out the article here

I work at Sivill Service as an IT engineer fixing, repairing and building computers, phones, laptops and tablets. A big part of what we do is helping those in the community with their questions and issues. 

The main focus of the ITV piece was discussing those who are being left behind because of a lack of knowledge, understanding or desire to have a smartphone and to use apps. Whilst I agree that the lack of a smartphone these days is a major detriment I think that the point needs to be taken one step further.....

I wholeheartedly agree with the majority of the content of the documentary I do not think it gives a whole or 100% accurate picture of the impact of the digital divide. I feel the Government needs to be doing more to address this issue. I feel ITV need to follow this documentary on and discuss more about this issue. 

The Divide

The digital divide is increasing. These days technology is taking over our lives. We are becoming more and more reliant on these devices for everything. A discussion with several of our customers tells me that these days smartphones are taking over our lives with even the very young living their lives in front of a screen. I do not feel this is always for the better and I work with technology every day!

The digital divide is a metaphorical and physically increasing partition existing in society. Whilst this is not a line drawn in pencil around certain groups of people and thus is metaphorical in actual fact the divide is a very real thing. It is a dividing line between people who have access to modern technology and those that do not. 

Living and working in Lincolnshire - a very rural county really highlights this divide. My husband works all across the UK and we rely on mobile phones for communication. My own travels around the country too show me how much life has changed and tech has taken over. 

Recently I went to Birmingham to a concert with my mum. So in the day... I used the phone to speak to my husband, I connected my car stereo to my phone for GPS and to stream music. I needed a QR code off the phone to access the car park when we got there. I then used the maps on my phone to get us to where we we needed to be. When we got to the venue, the entry tickets were on an app . yet again on my phone. Then we needed an email for medical clearance - on the phone. Photos - once again camera on the phone. Everywhere I turned the phone was involved. I generally use my phone much below the average use and still some days EVERY little thing you do relies on it.

Living here where services are limited and the income is low, we see a lot of people who fall into the cracks and are certainly on the wrong side of the digital divide. This is where I disagree with the ITV documentary slightly. Many more people do not have the facilities, resources or funds to access the internet.

When I look at my trip to Birmingham and how much I used my phone that day I can see how people do struggle without the use of smartphones. There are certainly many being left behind. The ITV documentary focused on older generations and how they are feeling increasingly isolated and lost in a forever more digital world. I see many people who fit this group. However, I do not feel the story ends with the older generations. 

In this report by Ofcom it was recognised that in December 2021 6% of UK households had no internet access at home. This figure was vastly skewed by Covid and the assistance provided to ensure that children could learn from home but 6% across the number of homes in the UK is still a HUGE figure. Some many not want internet, some lack the finances to afford it, others lack the technology to get online and others may have the technology but not have the services in the area.

Digital Age - progress?

In an age where some adults spend 19 hours a day in front of a screen, is this really considered progress? Organisations like the NSPCC say that screen time should be limited for children and reduced where possible this seems to be a major battle. Schools now use online portals for homework encouraging use of the internet. GP surgeries now push patients to communicate and book appointments online. Is this really progress?

Exposure to digital devices has its own implications and medical impacts. With many young people feeling the strains of constantly being "switched on" and with other people suffering from mental health issues as a result of social media and the internet, is the digital age having a more negative impact that we think?

When so many individuals in our population feel isolated and out of touch do we as a whole need to take a step back from our reliance on technology and reconnect with each other? Often we see families sitting together where everyone is on a phone. They do not communicate with those around them in person but via the internet. In some ways I feel those without internet are likely leading much more enriched lives. 

The government needs to do more to ensure that we are all blessed with the same opportunities. I see on a daily basis how much people struggle and contrary to popular belief it is not all older generations. There are more youngsters and middle aged people that struggle with phones, computers and the internet than older generations may ever believe. 

We try to help those in our community offering advice and assistance to people of all ages with no judgement to be able to do what they need to do with technology. I have been working with computers now for over 15 years and have encountered people of all ages from teens to centennials in that time who have needed help. There is no shame in asking if you get stuck and people are always welcome to come and see us for a chat.

I will follow to ITV outcome and follow on. In the meantime.... 

Talk to one another and stay safe

Kelly x


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