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Digital divide leaves a quarter of Brits stranded

BCS survey finds ‘significant proportion’ of adults with no access to a PC
Robert Jaques, 07 Sep 2004

One in four Britons are in danger of being marginalised because they have no access to PCs at home or at work, the British Computer Society (BCS) has warned.

According to its latest survey investigating the nation’s computing habits, there are a "significant proportion of adults who are in danger of being marginalised as the government gears society up for the information age".

Although 59 per cent of poll respondents said they have a home PC, 26 per cent have no access to a PC whatsoever, whether at home, work, college or a public library, suggesting that the IT revolution is in danger of leaving behind a quarter of the population.

BCS chief executive David Clarke said in a statement: "It is clear that not everyone is experiencing the benefits of computing, despite the government’s aim to ensure that every home has access to a PC.

"This is an area which must be addressed. We see it as essential that all of society is able to use a computer with the same confidence as the telephone."

The survey also found that 54 per cent of respondents were frustrated with the complexity of IT, and 72 per cent were concerned over ‘immoral’ internet content.

But the poll reported that 80 per cent of the UK’s population now believe that computers have made a positive contribution to our lives.

Almost three-quarters of respondents used a computer to surf the internet, dismissing concerns that junk email, computer viruses and online fraud have irreparably tarnished the computer’s image as a force for good.

And 57 per cent of those using the internet do so to purchase goods and services, demonstrating a growing confidence in e-shopping
, according to the BCS.

Concerns that computer users spend hours glued to their PC screens have also been dispelled. Only 34 per cent of those questioned use their PC for more than five hours a week.