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Published, 4 October 2017

Vulnerable young people experience digital exclusion

A report published by the Carnegie Trust UK challenges the assumption that all young people have basic digital skills and are digitally literate.

The findings of the first phase of #NotWithoutMe, a programme of digital inclusion for vulnerable young people are drawn from four, year-long pilot projects run across the UK (two based in England, one in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland).

The report found that many young people do not have basic digital skills, in particular vulnerable young people are in need of additional support. Digital exclusion is a significant challenge and reduces their long-term wellbeing.

Key messages from the report include:

  • Not all young people have basic digital skills
  • High levels of competence in some digital skills may mask low levels of 'purposeful' digital skills
  • The professional and family support networks surrounding young people also need more opportunities to improve their digital skills
  • Specific consideration should be given to vulnerable young people
  • Opportunities to learn basic digital skills should be embedded into existing long-term skills development programmes in formal and informal education settings
  • Young people should be involved in shaping their own digital skills development projects
  • Self-report methods of digital skills measurement are not always appropriate

The report offers a number of recommendations including using inclusive language, a flexible approach to delivery by practitioners, and a base level measurement to understand the true starting point.