‘Ever wondered what people are doing on the internet all day?’ This tongue-in-cheek question, used to promote a Get Online Week event, touches on a serious point. Although 82% of the UK population go online every day, almost one in ten have never used the internet and 17.5% lack basic digital skills. While for most of us going online is part of our daily routine - from checking the news to chatting with friends - a significant minority of people are digitally excluded.
This week is Get Online Week, a UK-wide digital inclusion campaign. There are thousands of events taking place across the country, where staff and volunteers in community centres, village halls and libraries are helping people develop their digital skills and take advantage of the many benefits of the internet. These free events provide training and support for a range of skills and processes, from guidance on how to book a GP appointment online, to introductions to websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Gov.UK, to advice on how to be safe on the internet. Click here to see what events are running and how you can get involved!
Here in Whitehall, Good Things Foundation (GTF), the charity behind Get Online Week, is holding two interactive lunchtime sessions to mark the week. At these sessions civil servants will be able to try some of the games and tools GTF use to engage people without digital skills, take part in activities designed to demonstrate the challenges and rewards of being a digital champion, and find out more about the work GTF is doing to tackle digital exclusion. The aim is to raise awareness of the problem of digital exclusion, and encourage more people to volunteer to support others develop their digital skills.
Alongside the many events being held this week, Get Online Week is asking people to Try 1 Thing: to use the internet to perform a task - be it managing money with a banking app or sharing a photo - that they would normally do in person or over the phone. Going online for the first time can be intimidating, but if people are supported to take that first step, they will be far more willing to use the internet for another task. In this way, Get Online Week is helping people build confidence and develop their digital skills.
So do get involved! Try something new or support others develop their digital skills!