top of page

Digital Motivation: Exploring the reasons people are offline 

Photo of one of our volunteers on a PC.

The main measures of the scale of digital exclusion in the UK (from ONS, Ofcom and Lloyds Banking Group) show a slowing in the rate of progress in people moving online and gaining basic digital skills. In 2018, the Lloyds Consumer Digital Index shows that 11.3 million people lack at least one basic digital skill; and separate research from Good Things Foundation and CEBR suggests that at current rates of progress, 6.9 million people will still lack digital skills by 2028.
For some time, the key barriers associated with digital exclusion have been understood in UK policy and practice as: • The basic/essential digital skills gap; • A lack of access to a connection and/or device; • The motivational barriers preventing people from engaging.    The motivation - or willingness - to engage with and use digital technology has been explored through a variety of research and data projects, interventions and evaluations in the UK, but although it is recognised as a key issue and unpacked to some extent, it has not yet been investigated in depth in its own right.    Of the three core barriers to digital inclusion, motivation is underlined in research as the most significant in terms of the number of people affected, and the most persistent and hard to address. But while current research identifies a lack of motivation/interest and a lack of trust as the most significant reasons given by large numbers of people for not engaging with the internet, these categories are not broken down at a more granular level, exploring the specific personal/contextual reasons why people lack motivation and remain offline.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that those remaining offline are those in greatest need. Digital exclusion and social exclusion are closely related, and the recent slowing in the rate of national progress in digital inclusion suggests that those remaining offline are facing the highest levels of social exclusion. Increasingly, we will need to build on current best practice to develop even more engaging and effective ways of reaching and supporting those who face very real barriers in their lives.    We believe it is critical to understand in even greater depth why people are offline. Without this understanding, we cannot shape the future approaches and interventions required to help those in greatest need benefit from the digital world. 
Research aim:
Between August and December 2018, Good Things Foundation, Professor Simeon Yates (University of Liverpool) and BT have been working in partnership to conduct research into the reasons why 6.3m people do not engage with the internet (‘non-users’).1

The primary purpose is: 

To better understand the specific reasons people in the UK give for being offline, in greater depth and granularity than currently available research.   Click button below to access the report. 


bottom of page