On the 29th November 2012, ILC-UK held the launch of a new report: ‘Nudge or Compel? Can behavioural economics tackle the digital exclusion of older people?’. This report, kindly supported by Nominet Trust, examines the factors which affect why older people do not get online, concentrating on behavioural choice. The launch was hosted by the Communications Consumer Panel.
Close to eight million adults in the UK have never used the internet, with the vast majority being older people. Over two fifths of those who have never been online are over 75. Previous work from ILC-UK has drawn attention to the nuances in why this digital divide continues; reporting in 2011 that for digital exclusion, factors such as psychological issues ‘appear to be more influential than material factors such as cost or lack of physical infrastructure’.
Within the last decade a strong policy trend has developed with the use of behavioural economics. Explored by Thaler and Sunstein in Nudge, this theory has been used in the development of programmes such as automatic enrolment in occupational pensions.
The introduction of the ‘digital by default’ agenda is likely to eventually result in reducing the alternative options for accessing public services and information. While resources have been funnelled into projects aiming to getting those not online connected, concerns have been raised that people who are disinclined to use the internet will be left without support and excluded from information and services.
During this event we heard from a number of experts in this area and approached the following questions:
-What potential is there for behavioural economics to ‘nudge’ people online?
-Has media literacy failed?
-Should we make more public services available exclusively online?
-How can we ensure that the digital by default agenda supports people to get online?
- How can we use digital technology in imaginative ways to re-think the challenges facing people in later life?