The growing disconnect in a digitally-connected world

In a world where we are more connected than ever before, some groups are experiencing a disconnect that only grows with time. Socio-economic inequalities are a pervasive problem, and a lack of internet access and digital skills only compounds the issue. The internet is no longer a commodity – it has become a societal necessity. Private organizations and governments need to urgently come together to fight digital exclusion and bridge the gaping digital divide.

To better understand this situation and explore the barriers to digital inclusion and connectivity, we launched an integrated global research study in five developed countries (France, Germany, Sweden, the UK, and the United States), and one developing country (India). Our report explores the social and economic implications of being offline, and how organizations, policy makers, and governments can lead digital-inclusion initiatives to empower our population and build a more inclusive future.

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Highlights

Why are people offline

  • 56% of offline people aged 22 to 36 say device cost is the reason they have never used the internet
  • A perception that the internet is too complex or difficult is a key reason for staying away for people with health conditions or a disability
  • The 60+ age group often claim “lack of interest” as the main reason for being offline

The consequences of being offline

  • Social exclusion
  • Limited career mobility
  • Hindered access to public services
  • Financial hardship
  • Health inequalities

How organizations can support greater digital inclusion

  • Private organizations can invest in digital inclusion, educate people to stay safe online, and recruit candidates from marginalized communities with digital skills into the workforce
  • Policy makers can make devices and internet more accessible to marginalized communities and create greater accessibility for online public services
  • Both sides can work together to focus on public-private partnerships and raising awareness on the value of the internet to disadvantaged offline populations.

Key takeaways

65%

of offline respondents aged 60+ have no interest in using the internet

46%

of offline respondents would feel more connected to family and friends if they had access

48%

of the offline population would like to get internet access in the future
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