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Should people be forced to go online?

(95 Posts)
GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 21-Nov-12 09:58:59

Seven million people in the UK aren't online. A lot of them are older (although in fact there's evidence that digital exclusion is more closely linked to other sorts of social exclusion than to age).

Our friends at the ILC (International longevity Centre) have a report coming out about this next week. Young people may be forced to go online to collect benefits; they want to know if we think older people should be forced to get connected as well? (Do we patronise people by assuming they can't cope with technology?)

If we're going to rely on the carrot approach - what would a good carrot be?

And does technology help to overcome loneliness or does it isolate people more?

Anne58 Wed 21-Nov-12 10:03:10

Not really sure about the idea of forcing but this is making me think quite hard!

jO5 Wed 21-Nov-12 10:06:19

And more post offices close down. And with them, the little country shops which go with them. And the heart goes out of more communities. hmm

jO5 Wed 21-Nov-12 10:07:24

The internet, and computer usage, should be optional. As it is now.

It would only be about saving money anyway.

Greatnan Wed 21-Nov-12 10:07:24

What a horrible idea - my sister has tried to learn how to use a computer at a course at her local library, but she just cannot deal with technology. She can't be the only one - and what about people who have sight problems? This is just to make things cheaper for service providers, whether public or private.

jO5 Wed 21-Nov-12 10:10:30

Greatnan - our posts when up at exactly the same time! It's a wonder we didn't blow up Gransnet! grin

Greatnan Wed 21-Nov-12 10:16:05

Jingle - this is not the first time today that you have said something with which I agree - this cannot be allowed to continue! smile

grannyactivist Wed 21-Nov-12 10:17:25

There are very many reasons why people don't feel the need to be online. My mother in law is simply too busy to take the time to learn her way around a computer. As for forcing people I feel quite cross that the thought should even arise angry. I well remember the hassle I got for not having a mobile phone when, according to friends and family, everyone else had one. Now I do have one I frustrate the life out of people because I'm not a slave to it and use it for my convenience.

gracesmum Wed 21-Nov-12 10:41:48

I am sure we have had a similar conversation discussion before about how the internet makes us, the consumer/customer do much more whereas in the past, you had a service provided. We are expected to google before we buy, check-in online before we fly (or pay the extra) order repeat prescriptions online at our local health centre, make our appointments online likewise, "click and collect" internet shopping, internet banking - all of these services used to provide a human point of contact called a receptionist/shop assistant/bank clerk etc and provided employment. It is a fallacy to believe we are being empowered in this way, the "buck" is just being passed straight back to us.

Anne58 Wed 21-Nov-12 10:46:42

I feel that total dependence on technology is a mistake. We get quite a few power cuts in our area, so if that was the only way people could get their benefit payments, they'd be buggered.

Ana Wed 21-Nov-12 10:48:30

Although, of course, some people actually prefer to do their banking, for example, online because it's easier than queueing up at the bank. My stepdaughter travels all over the country for her job and the only time she has to pay bills etc. is out of banking hours.

Greatnan Wed 21-Nov-12 10:51:26

Ana, I obviously rely heavily on my computer because I live abroad, but we are not arguing against the use of the computer, but against it being compulsory.

gracesmum Wed 21-Nov-12 10:56:26

If you were to substitute the word obliged for forced, I think we could all think of how the computer/internet impacts our lives, mostly for the good but not necessarily always.

Ana Wed 21-Nov-12 11:01:04

Yes, Greatnan, my post was in response to the last sentence in gracesmum's previous post - 'It is a fallacy to believe we are being empowered in this way, the "buck" is just being passed straight back to us.'

Ana Wed 21-Nov-12 11:08:12

It's hard to see how people could be 'forced' to go online. Who's going to pay for the PC and broadband connection if the family or pensioner is struggling to make ends meet as it is? Will they expect the disabled and housebound, or single parents to be able to get to the local library or internet café every week?

Greatnan Wed 21-Nov-12 11:10:34

I don't suppose it has been properly thought through - and would they care anyway? I believe the change to the way pensions were paid caused quite a lot of problems for some pensioners.

Greatnan Wed 21-Nov-12 11:13:47

I have just re-read the OP and note that at the moment the proposal is for young people to have to go online - but I know that some of them cannot afford either a computer or a connection charge.
I could not live my current lifestyle without my computer, but my sister manages perfectly well. If she wants something ordering online, I do it for her and I make her travel arrangements, or she asks one of her sons.

annodomini Wed 21-Nov-12 11:25:30

At a meeting of our CAB yesterday, we were reliably informed that the only way to apply for benefits under the new system will be on line. Gasps of astonishment from advisers.

Greatnan Wed 21-Nov-12 11:30:09

There will be long queues at public libraries, then - where they have not been shut down. Once again, the most vulnerable are being targeted. I bloody loathe this government and the last one was not much better.

FlicketyB Wed 21-Nov-12 11:34:43

We have just had the outside of our house redecorated. The painter we employed was around 40, although we communicated a few times by email generally, as he was local, he called round. He said he was poor with computers, so his wife handled everything and I deeply suspect he had reading difficulties, probably dyslexia. How would he manage if he was on his own without his wife to handle all computer based, and other literacy based activity?

Similarly when I worked with older people, quite a number I worked with were effectively illiterate or very poorly educated, others were in constant pain and/or struggling with illnesses of various kinds that blunted their thought processes and made any kind of concentration impossible, others still, while not having dementia, had lost their mental edge and their thought processes were slow and plodding. I live in a rural area. How will an elderly disabled person with no computer or internet access and no local bus service access public available computers?

It is also not just knowing how to use the computer, it is also finding your way round the internet, getting in and out of official sites, understanding and completeing forms answering queries etc etc.

There are always going to be people of all ages whose mental ability, learning disabilities or physical health make it impossible to use computers.

Lilygran Wed 21-Nov-12 11:40:39

There was an outcry when banks said they were going to stop processing cheques and that seems to have faded out somehow. On the other hand, closing post offices and the PO Savings Bank ( the poor person's option) and requiring everyone to have a bank account went ahead in spite of public protest. There are still parts of this country where Internet access is patchy or unreliable so becoming computer literate in school won't help young people who live there. Many more scams are easily available to villains on-line than in person or by phone or mail, raising serious security questions. Computers, smart Phones and tablets are getting cheaper and TV/IT packages are available but all these cost money to run. In the USA I believe Internet use is charged at much lower rates. Perhaps TV/phone/IT packages could be cheaper?

FlicketyB Wed 21-Nov-12 11:41:16

Sorry two missives in quick succession. One of the big difficulties is that the young bright intelligent people who write these reports have absolutely no experience or knowledge of the people who are going to be 'forced' to use computers.

When I worked with older people a lot of my time was spent filling in benefit applications and when Pension Credit was introduced I always said that I wanted Gordon Brown, the Treasury Ministers and the bright boys and girls in suits who thought up these complicated schemes to come down to visit local day centres. I would then give them ten minutes to explain Pension Credit and then hand out forms to those present and see how they coped with filling them out. I was convinced that if they did so they would reapidly depart back to London to rethink their ideas.

I would do exactly the same with the authors of this report.

harrigran Wed 21-Nov-12 11:54:21

Older people may be able to find their way round a computer but it does not alter the fact that those on a basic pension may not be able to afford the broadband connection. Young or old if you can not afford the computer and connection then no carrot is going to work, just making the divide between have and have not greater.

GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 21-Nov-12 13:59:50

Apologies, the suggestion of forcing people to go online was just a bit of controversy thrown in recklessly by me to spice things up - I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting it for older people (though it may become quite difficult for younger people on benefits if they don't have computer skills). Was trying to find out if there was a feeling that lower standards are set for older people (assumption we find it hard to learn things).

More interestingly, perhaps, why do we think a lot of people don't want to go online and what would motivate them? (Knowing about Gransnet, imho, smile)

Have you come across any of the schemes to help people get online? What more would be useful?

Barrow Wed 21-Nov-12 14:25:19

I can see a lot of drawbacks here, although I use the internet a lot I know many people who don't want to, there is also the problem of internet scams. A lot of older people are more trusting and there is the possibility they might fall for these scams.

The cost of internet access would also be difficult to afford for many (perhaps the carrot could be free internet access to all homes!). I live in a small village 5 miles from the nearest library - would there be provided mobile internet librarys to visit out of the way places for people unable to drive to the nearest library? They have stopped mobile librarys so I doubt it very much. Obviously, this hasn't been thought through properly.

Even if this is only aimed at young people, there is still the problem of the cost of internet access and equipment. Whilst it is generally thought that all young people have mobile phones able to connect to the internet I wonder if that is really the case with poorer families. Also, again if they are not in large towns or cities, mobile phone reception in the countryside can be very hit and miss