Missing out on the digital revolution

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167,000 people in Merseyside have never used the internet photo © Wikimedia Commons/ Chief Photographer

167,000 people in Merseyside have never used the internet. Photo © Wikimedia Commons/ Chief Photographer

Nearly 15% of people in Merseyside have never used the internet, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

The data sees Merseyside ranked as the sixth lowest area for internet usage by population in the UK. Around 167,000 people in Merseyside claim to have never used the internet, amounting to 14.8% of the region’s population.

The only areas of the UK with a higher percentage of their population claiming to have never used the internet were Lincolnshire (15.2%), West Wales and the Valleys (15.7%), Isles of Scilly (16.8%), the Highlands and Islands (16.9%) and Northern Ireland (18.8%).

The national average stands at 11.4%.

Dr David Dolowitz, head of research for University of Liverpool’s Politics department, suggested there may be a correlation between those areas with a higher percentage of people who have never used the internet and the more deprived areas in the UK.

He told JMU Journalism: “While I have not tested this I suggest that the core reasons are a combination of demographic, socioeconomic status, and education.

“What I mean is that while a large number of over-55s are internet-savvy, those of low income and low education are likely to have substantially lower use. This is combined with above average poverty levels leading to some being priced out of the market.”

The figures seem to paint a bleak picture for the level of deprivation on Merseyside and its effect on its residents. Asked whether these statistics were something to worry about, Dr Dolowitz added: “No, if modern life and happiness is not reduced or limited by lack of use.

“But yes, however, in that this is itself linked to issues of supplemental sources of access – such as public libraries – which are closing while the costs of private providers increases. Of course if you believe that the internet is an essential part of life, and that a substantial minority lack this element, then clearly it is a problem.”

About Sam Davies, JMU Journalism