NEWS4 May 2021

‘Digital divide’ narrowed during Covid-19

Covid-19 News Trends UK

UK – Almost 1.5 million homes are still not connected to the internet despite the UK’s ‘digital divide’ having narrowed during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Ofcom research.

Virtual group

Ofcom said that the proportion of homes without internet access in the UK had fallen from 11% in March 2020 to 6% in March this year.

The findings, which are based on Ofcom’s quantitative Adults’ Media Literacy Tracker, also state that adults with previously limited digital skills have embraced online shopping, digital banking and video calls.

Younger people have been acting as IT support for older or less digitally-confident friends and relatives, the research says.

However, those aged 65 or over, lower-income households and the most financially vulnerable were less likely to have internet access, with half of those without internet access saying the internet is too complicated or holds no interest for them.

A third of people without the internet had a lack of equipment to access the internet, and 60% of those who were not online had asked others to do something for them on the internet in the past year.

The most common need was help buying something over the internet, Ofcom said.

Ofcom’s research on parents and children also found that 4% relied solely on mobile phone to access the internet during the pandemic, and a fifth of children did not have consistent access to a suitable device for online home learning.

Yih-Choung Teh, strategy and research group director at Ofcom, said: “For many people, lockdown will leave a lasting legacy of improved online access and better digital understanding. But for a significant minority of adults and children, it’s only served to intensify the digital divide.

“We’ll continue to work with government and other partner organisations to promote digital literacy and ensure that people of all ages and backgrounds are empowered to share in the benefits of the internet.”