Motivational barriers of non-users of the internet

A report on the findings of Good Things Foundation, Professor Simeon Yates (University of Liverpool), and BT's partnership research into understanding motivational barriers of non-users of the internet.

Key findings

3.88M adults think the internet is 'not for them'

1.62M adults lack necessary support

1.41M adults find the internet too complicated

943K adults find the internet too expensive

The motivation – or willingness – to engage with and use digital technology has been explored through a variety of research and data projects, interventions and evaluations in the UK, but although it is recognised as a key issue and unpacked to some extent, it has not yet been investigated in depth in its own right.

This project’s primary research aim is to understand the specific reasons people in the UK give for being offline, in greater depth and granularity than currently available research.

We have identified four main groups of people in terms of the reasons and barriers they describe for not being online. It is important to note that these four main groups are not distinct and people may fall into more than one.

The four main groups don’t tell the whole story. Through our research interviews we have identified a number of personas within each of these groups. These personas each have separate support needs, details of which can be found later in the report and in the other materials we have produced as part of this research.

These four main groups

It’s not for me

These are non-users who state the internet is not for them or “people like me” and do not see the personal benefit in being online. They have had no real need or purpose by which to go online. As a result, they do not see how the internet can add value to their current situation. Some people within this group also have an underlying fear of using the internet.

Read the ‘It’s not for me’ personas

I don’t have the right support

Some non-users of the internet report they do not have the right support. This could be access to the support they feel they need in order to get online, or the actual devices required to do this.

Read the ‘I don’t have the right support’ personas

It’s too complicated

Another reason that non-users cite for being offline is that the internet is too complicated for them. This reason may be used so as to mask their own abilities if they do not have the skills to go online. These are not just basic digital skills but also an understanding of how the internet works. Importantly it may include the critical skills to judge digital content to stay safe online.

Read the ‘It’s too complicated’ personas

It’s too expensive

The final barrier identified for non-users in this research is the cost of accessing the internet. This is related to the affordability of devices as well as connection costs for running these devices.

Read the ‘It’s too expensive’ personas