Mobile devices better suited for digitally excluded

Digitally excluded find tablets and smartphones easier to use and more intuitive, according to Tinder Foundation and Vodafone UK report

Some 78% of the UK’s digitally excluded are more inclined to get online using a tablet or smartphone, a report from Vodafone UK and Tinder Foundation has revealed.

The Mobile: Helping to close the digital divide? report, launched by the Tinder Foundation with Vodafone UK, details the findings of the Tinder Foundation's nationwide effort for digital inclusion.

According the report, the majority of participants felt more encouraged to get online via a tablet or smartphone, as they were shown to be more intuitive and easier to use than a laptop or desktop. The results of the report are based on a research initiative which was run through the charity’s UK online centres network.

In July 2014, Vodafone UK commissioned Tinder Foundation to undergo a six-month study to identify the benefits of using mobile devices for the digitally excluded.

The project was deployed across 17 Tinder Foundation UK online centres, to find out how mobile connectivity could improve the lives of those lacking digital skills. Participants needed to meet at least one criterion of social exclusion and were selected from “severely excluded and hard-to-reach demographics”.

A total of 60 participants took part in the project, having been loaned tablets, smartphones or Wi-Fi hotspots by Vodafone.

Each UK online centre delivered learning programmes in addition to one-to-one support for 80% of participants.

Working with Tinder Foundation’s research and innovation team, Vodafone UK found an increase in online skills had impacts on personal health and wellbeing, and enabled people to better manage their physical and mental health.

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Some 88% of those who took part said they improved their digital skills, with 65% reporting improvements to confidence and self-esteem.

The project also aimed to tackle loneliness and isolation, with 67% claiming to experience better and more frequent communication with friends and family.

The cost of broadband was highlighted as a significant barrier for many people getting online, while 70% agreed that mobile has “greater flexibility and cost advantages”.

Carers and people living in rented, social or sheltered housing benefited most from the use of learning digital skills on mobile devices.

The report was unveiled at a recent event hosted by Tinder Foundation and Vodafone UK at the House of Lords..

Tinder Foundation CEO Helen Milner said the report findings are just the beginning.

“We’re keen to explore these barriers further to ensure everyone – and anyone – can experience the benefits of being online," she said.

“Tinder Foundation looks forward to working with Vodafone to further support the brilliant work our UK online centres do to continue breaking down the barriers of digital exclusion.”

Vodafone UK corporate and external affairs director Helen Lamprell added: “Our aim of working with Tinder Foundation, as part of our commitment to the government’s Digital Inclusion Charter, is simple – we want to put the power of the internet into the hands of everyone through mobile technology.

“We are delighted to have worked with Tinder Foundation and their local partners around the UK to have started the process of empowering a digitally-skilled nation.”

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