One of the many roles of Ofcom is to help promote media literacy and as part of this Ofcom publishes various reports and the latest is qualitative analysis from a set of workshops in six locations around the UK where people shared their experiences of the internet.
The role that the internet plays in people's lives varied widely, primarily dictated by their levels of digital literacy.
For those with high and medium digital literacy, the internet was integrated into their lives and either was, or was fast becoming, their primary way to make purchases and contact friends.
Among those with low digital literacy, however, being competent online was felt to be a requirement, to the extent that they sometimes felt as though they were being 'forced' online. Those with lower digital literacy often felt that online communication was replacing more valuable face-to-face contact and lamented this fact. The key online activity for this group was information-seeking, as it was perceived to be relatively safe and easy to perform."Extract from Ofcom report
The results may not be surprising to some, but if you are in the group of people who do almost everything online these days it is very easy to forget that there are a vast range of users of the Internet with very different skill sets.
The printing press was a big revolution in how information was shared, replacing hand written books, the 20th century produced radio, TV and cinema and the 21st Century is making even more information available to people and how individuals and society as a whole behave online is making more information available, though with the risk that those with less skills may be left behind.
We are sure many of our visitors have helped friends, family and neighbours with Internet access and computer issues over the years, but if you are someone who needs help and has no handy people you trust to show you how to do some online activities, UK Online centres have a useful searchable map showing where various courses and drop-in centres are located to help people improving their online skills.