Taskforce to combat digital exclusion among young people

The Learning Foundation, Nominet and the Greater London Authority are among the cross-sector organisations involved in setting up digital inclusion group Digital Access For All.

Joe Lepper | 25th Feb 19
Image shows a child using a tablet computer. Children increasingly face risks such as bullying, harrassment and grooming online, and more needs to be done to protect them.

Charities, companies and public sector organisations have come together to form a taskforce to tackle digital exclusion among children and young people.

Digital Access for All (DAFA) has been set up by the charity Learning Foundation and domain name firm Nominet to address digital barriers facing young people and ensure they have equal access to digital technology.

The move has been taken as digital exclusion is harming young people’s financial and educational future, says a statement from the group.

According to Lloyds Bank, one of the group’s founding partners, around 700,000 children and young people, aged 11 to 18, are not able to use digital devices at home and six per cent are still forced to connect to the internet via dial-up modems.

Location a key barrier

To mark DAFA’s launch another founding partner, Carnegie UK Trust, has published a digital inclusion report called Switched On.

This found that digital access is a particular issue for those in rural areas and urban areas of high deprivation.

The report also says that digital policy is varied nationally and locally, covering different aspects of young people’s interaction with technology. Instead it calls for a shift in the debate to cover the full range of issues impacting on digital inclusion. This should include affordable and reliable connections, access to technology and online safety.

Over the next six months DAFA will work on a series of pilots to test out different ways of improving digital access for children and young people.

“Digital Access For All is a determined effort to unlock solutions to the challenge of digital exclusion so that every young person, and their family, can have adequate access in the home so they can build the skills, confidence and enjoy opportunities for their future in a digital society,” said Paul Finnis, Chief Executive Officer of the Learning Foundation.

Eleanor Bradley, Nominet’s Chief Operating Officer added: “As a leading digital nation, the UK needs to ensure that all of its citizens are able to engage, participate and benefit from everything that being online can offer.

“With Digital Access For All our goal is to test and shape a number of pilot initiatives to provide tangible solutions that ensure that all young people have the opportunity to reach their potential in a society that is now digital by default.”

Other founding partners include Greater London Authority, Good Things Foundation, BT, Microsoft, Intel, Argos and Computer Recyclers.