Thursday , October 28 2021

The report gives voice to Kiwi faced with digital exclusion



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The Internet and digital technologies are so widespread that it may be difficult to believe that some New Zealanders are still lacking.

Today, the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation and InternetNZ have published a report called From the Maze, which gives voice to the new Zealanders facing "digital exclusion".

Why does "Digital Inclusion" matter? The report explains:

"Access to affordable and accessible digital devices and services at a convenient time, as well as motivation, skills and confidence in using the internet to track and deliver meaningful social and economic results is essential for social inclusion."

Study participants used the internet as a central part for connection, communication, education, entertainment and many other activities.

"The Internet is deeply integrated into many of our lives. We can forget how the world is being experienced by those who do not have access to the devices and connectivity that we consider to be self-evident," said Dr. Ellen Strickland, InternetNZ policy director.

The people surveyed in the report say they feel excluded, isolated, helpless and have limited opportunities because they can not access the Internet.

The impact of digital exclusion is particularly damaging when people are in a vulnerable state or in transition, for example when a young woman leaves home without family support.

The biggest barriers to digital inclusion include cost, physical access, motivation, trust and security as well as skills.

"While some rural participants told us that they did not have both broadband coverage and mobile data coverage, a more common theme was the challenge of accessing the free Internet in public places, which many people use them regularly. "

"Some people with disabilities need specialized, often expensive, technology to use the Internet." Sometimes technology breaks down, and if people's conditions change, they may need new devices, so people with disabilities can end up without digital access. This has strong implications for people who use technology to program their day, surf, communicate, and socialize. Even when they are able to get online, some people with disabilities face additional barriers because of inaccessible software and design. "

Participants also say there are several factors that lead to digital exclusion, including social and economic conditions such as poverty, violence, intergenerational trauma, racism, lack of shelter and unemployment.

"The study suggests that digital exclusion is not a static but a permeable one with people moving in and out of digital access because the circumstances and circumstances of their lives are changing." For many people, those transition points create the greatest vulnerability " , explains author Marianne Elliott.

"We have a higher poverty rate here, so a lot of people are either unemployed and can not afford or simply can not afford to pay for the devices on the Internet, obviously they (prioritize) food and energy" , says study participant Kawerau Wananga.

The study suggests several parties that could contribute to Aotearoa New Zealand including digital, including iwi and local government, policy makers, technology and communication companies and charitable organizations.

Suggestions for Internet Service Providers include lighter contracts that do not penalize people for changing circumstances; accessible prepaid packages; data plans for children; and personalized mobile access portals that provide essential services to people in need.

Suggestions for technology companies include safer software, platform and service design; and more actions in cases of online harassment and other harmful digital behaviors.

"InternetNZ believes that Internet access for all New Zealanders will unlock the transformative benefits of meaningful digital inclusion." As leaders in this space, we collaborate with organizations that have similar values ​​and beliefs to make sure our new Zealand is heard, "Strickland concludes.

The Vodafone Foundation says it is committed to halving the number of excluded and disadvantaged young people by 2027.

Vodafone Foundation Director Lani Evans believes digital inclusion plays an important role in supporting this goal.

"This research has given us the opportunity to explore digital inclusion from the perspective of people and caretakers with first-hand experience with access problems. The Foundation is proud to play a role in providing a platform for Kiwis voices so we can understand how design and deliver better digital services for everyone. "

Concentrated research interviewed 62 young people, parents and caregivers of school-age children in four targeted New Zealand regions: ay de Plenty (Kawerau), Westport, South Auckland (Mangere and Manurewa) and Naenae in Hutt Vale .

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