Public services failing smartphone-only users, says charity

A report by Citizen’s Advice Scotland finds that smartphone-only internet users are struggling to carry out basic online tasks such as filling in a form.

Joe Lepper | 31st Aug 18

A charity is calling for online support services to be better geared towards the fifth of internet users who only access websites and apps via smartphones.

Citizen’s Advice Scotland found that this group of internet users struggle to undertake basic internet tasks via their smartphone, such as accessing forms.

Only around a third (34%) of smartphone only users were able to download and save forms, compared to almost half (47%) of those who regularly access other online devices.

Similarly just 34% of Smartphone users can complete an online form, compared to 48% of those who use other devices as well.

More than four out of 10 smartphone-only internet users says data and phone costs are a barrier.

This is leaving smartphone-only consumers, who are also more likely to live in deprived areas, at a disadvantage in terms of accessing support.

Smartphone users on the digital fringe

Citizen’s Advice Scotland says the findings show that it is vital that all public services have good smartphone access to ensure they can be used by all internet users.

“The implications of these findings are that some consumers are online, but in a way that significantly curtails their ability to undertake basic tasks and access essential services,” states the report Locked out: the Smartphone Deficit.

“These consumers are effectively on the digital fringe. These findings show the importance of public services being available to access on smartphones, as well as the continuing necessity of supporting consumers to be able to afford broadband and develop skills to use the internet.”

In February Citizen’s Advice Scotland released a report called Disconnected, which found that a fifth of its clients never use the internet and many lack basic internet skills.

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