Access and use of digital devices and the internet are important for helping people stay in touch with friends, learn new things, and access a wide of entertainment. But it goes much further than that. Digital inclusion is important for social equality, and to ensure equal access to the many benefits the internet offers.
The CEBR identifies five areas in which individuals with basic digital skills benefit:
time saved through online services
They also argue the benefits of basic digital skills training outweighs the costs involved, showing that the boost in tax receipts and NHS savings alone exceed the investment required.
Generally, studies suggest that individuals who use the internet to create and maintain social ties expand their social capital, connectivity, social engagement, and community attachment.
Digital participation can have an impact in minimising loneliness and depression among older people. Barnes finds older people who have internet access are three times less likely to be socially excluded. The widening digital participation evaluation in England showed around half of people provided with digital inclusion support felt less lonely and isolated.
Accessing the internet has been found to improve social interaction in people with disabilities and is a way for people with learning disabilities to have a private life separate from carers, one where they can generally present themselves separate from their disabilities.