Young people, globally, aged 15-24 account for almost one-fourth of all internet users. With society becoming ever more digital, inclusion for young people is becoming more important. What is digital inclusion and why is it important?
Digital inclusion is a way of making sure that everybody has the opportunity and the skills to be able to access, and make use of, digital technology. There is a range of methods and approaches that can be used to help people do this.
The focus here though is the importance of digital inclusion for young people, because they are entering a digital world and they must have the tools to navigate it.
- Some people may need a little more help than others
Young people seem very adept with technology don’t they, using smartphones, tablets etc.? But despite how it may look, our young people are not born with digital skills. Developing digital skills requires the opportunity to explore and help to learn.
The vulnerable are more at risk of slipping through the net and not getting the opportunities that they need for later life. For instance, they may lack:
- Technical ability
- Confidence or motivation
All of these are essential for young people to develop basic digital skills. Young people may also lack critical literacy skills. This doesn’t mean what you might think. When thinking of digital, critical literacy refers to awareness of the interests that lie behind online content. Confidence and skills in critical literacy are built only through frequent use.
- Watching content is not inclusion
A young person may be very good at finding and watching videos online, but the passive consumption of online content is not digital inclusion.
For our young people to experience the opportunities that access to the wealth of human knowledge that the internet provides, they need a range of skills in interacting with digital technology:
- Creating and managing information
Providing opportunities for young people to gain these skills is very important. It is important because of the world that they are growing up in. Today’s adults, aged maybe 35+, have a distinct advantage because this digital world grew around them – these adults were eased into it.
Young people today have no such advantage and so they must be prepared. As already noted, many young people just don’t have the opportunities, the access or the skills needed to navigate the digital world they are growing up in.
They must have the skills needed because in the coming years there will be 10s of millions of jobs available for those with advanced digital skills. With a predicted growth of a digital skills gap, the future for those without the right access to digital learning doesn’t look very bright.
The majority of young people today do not possess the right skills, at the moment, to fill the vacancies that are going to become more widespread. These digital skills are important now, not in several years when it will be close to being too late.
- Digital inclusion helps to secure young people’s futures
Access to equipment is a major roadblock in making sure that young people are included in the digital growth of the world that they are a part of. This is why My Outsourced IT exists. To help make sure that no young person in Greater Manchester gets left behind.
Of course, it does not and cannot stop with ‘just’ equipment. Training is needed too for digital inclusion to work, and My Outsourced IT can help there too.
Digital inclusion means making sure that no young person gets left behind, slips through the net and misses the opportunities that they deserve and need.