The digital wall for administrative procedures leaves the most vulnerable groups out of basic services | technology

Technologies are factors of inclusion and exclusion. Spain’s digital divide reinforces social inequalities and keeps the most vulnerable away from digital administrative measures, for example. The main reason is that in a highly digital society, people who do not have access to this system are increasingly far from being able to perform the basic tasks of their personal and social functions, according to a study released today by Fundació Ferrer i Guard . In addition, the study also refutes the perception that covid-19 has reduced this gap: only a quarter of the sample believe that their digital skills have improved after the pandemic. That number drops to one in ten when looking at digitally vulnerable groups, such as those with little educational training, those with low incomes and those over 65.

Sandra Gómez, coordinator of the investigation, explains to EL PAÍS that it is not just a technological or infrastructural problem, but that it goes further and is related to the capacity and useful usability of devices and the Internet. “There are a number of things that cannot be implemented, and abilities that cannot be developed, if the person does not have access to the device,” the researcher confirms. The report finds that only 16% of people with an income of less than €1,100 have a laptop or desktop, a figure that rises to 56% for those with an income of more than €3,900. The survey was conducted with 2,500 residents of Spain aged 16 and over. The survey was conducted by telephone at the state level and shows that 91.6% of the population has an Internet connection, whether fixed or through mobile data. However, the access gap has not yet been closed.

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Possession of the device is essential, but the main point of study is the use and use of these means, i.e. the ability and potential to use information technologies to perform various functions on a daily basis, such as obtaining information, carrying out paperwork, accessing services, studying and working. “It affects absolutely all areas of life: personal relationships, making an appointment, talking to your kids’ school, the kind of content you consume,” Gomez explains and adds, “The social inequalities we already know about are produced and fed back into the digital environment.”

gaps and loopholes

There is a gender and generation gap. But the most influential factors are the “educational and economic level”, as he insisted during a presentation of the work of the professor at the Complutense University of Madrid José Manuel Robles. 68% of people who have not completed primary school have never used the Internet, while most people with secondary and higher education use it daily.

Pedagogical training also shows the ability to carry out administrative tasks: while 88% of people without studies never or almost never carry out actions such as making appointments and making transfers themselves, about 80% of people with secondary or university studies do. Take them sporadically. It is the point where a large digital divide occurred, due to the rapid digital transformation process of public administrations and other services. For this reason, the study concludes, the implementation of digital actions “constitutes digital use in which a greater need for improvement is perceived.”

Executing digital actions “makes the digital use in which you perceive the greatest need for improvement”

Age is particularly striking when analyzing the ability to verify the validity and reliability of information found on the Internet, as well as aspects related to pedagogical training. The low digital picture of inclusion is characterized by a greater presence of women (63%), over 65 years of age (59.5%), retirees (61%); With an income of less than 1,100 €/month (32%) and primary studies (35%). In this group, nearly 90% do not have any online problem-solving skills; Only 20% can verify the authenticity and reliability of the information they find; Less than 10% know how to say whether the sites they are consulting are safe; And nearly 90% have never used office automation technology and have not expressed their opinion in participatory processes (consultations, petitions, voting, etc.) online. “The digital domain increases inequalities, because those who are in a better position get better from the Internet, and the lower their status gets the less,” says Robles.

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These difficulties generate a feeling of rejection. 27% of the group with the lowest abilities considered that they felt excluded with some reluctance, because they did not know, wanted or could not use them on some occasions. In addition, 42% confirm that the biggest difficulty is not having someone around to help manage the technologies.

On the other hand, the percentage of digital inclusion is almost as high (53% of men); those between the ages of 30 and 44 (40%); With an income between €1,800 and €2,700 (22.5%) and with a higher education (54%). It is they who, in addition to using the advantages of the network, are able to understand the risks it poses.

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