06 Mar 2009View Comments
Millions of Britons are missing out on the benefits of the digital economy such as internet shopping, online entertainment and easy access to government services because they either cannot afford or cannot use technology.
Research from the Inclusive Digital Economy Network (Iden) released today warns groups such as the elderly and disabled risk being excluded from the digital economy.
The factors influencing people's ability to participate in the digital economy were identified as accessibility, affordability, usability and the barrier new technologies present to those unfamiliar with it.
"The people who are currently digitally excluded are the same people who could benefit from, and are more likely to be in need of, digitally provided services," said Professor Alan Newell from the University of Dundee, and a member of Iden.
"When middle-aged people who can use computers grow older, not only will their reduction in hearing, sight and dexterity mean that they will find it more difficult to use modern technology, but assuming current trends continue, the technology will have changed, become more unfamiliar and thus confusing and frightening,” added Newell.
Iden researchers have spent a year investigating the challenges faced by older and disabled people within the digital economy.
"The government’s current priorities need to address the digital divide and ensure that the digital economy’s potential is harnessed, to improve services for those who are often excluded from new technologies such as the broadband internet and digital television,” said Dr Iosifidis, reader in media and communications at City University London and Iden's co-principal investigator.
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