Study challenges digital native myth


A study is challenging the idea that all young people are digitally savvy ― claiming that one in 10 rarely use the internet and that some do not know how to use email.

The nine-month research report, entitled On the periphery? Understanding low and discontinued internet use amongst young people in Britain, reveals that those young people who rarely use the internet lack the skills or simply do not have online access.

Commissioned by the Nominet Trust and conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, the report says that
10 per cent of young people aged between 17 and 23 rarely use the internet, if at all. 

It also found that some of those surveyed were embarrassed to admit that they did not understand how to use the internet properly and some were unable to use email.

The research suggests that young people without basic educational skills find they are unable to complete internet searches successfully, usually because of low literacy levels. 

Cost and a lack of access to the internet also play a huge part. Most of the young people identified as discontinued internet users were currently unemployed and a number of them had not finished secondary education.

The study coincides with the opening of a national exhibition of photography entitled Our Digital Planet which will visit UK cities to showcase images of how the internet has had an impact on people’s lives. 

The exhibition includes an image by amateur photographer Brian Smith from Clackmannanshire, submitted following a UK-wide competition. 

Annika Small, director of Nominet Trust, said: “In this digital world, we need to ensure that all young people can be confident users of the internet and have access to it and the support needed to develop the skills to be able to use the internet successfully.”

The Our Digital Planet exhibition will visit UK cities  this autumn. For details, visit


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