Motivation to go online

“The biggest challenge in encouraging people to go online is likely to be persuading them that it is worth their while to do so,and that the benefits to their quality of life will significantly outweigh the cost (either in time or money) of using digital technology.”

This is a quote from the Scottish Government’s 2011 Digital Future Strategy.  So the issue of motivation to go online is not particularly new.  Yet it remains one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome and an even more difficult one to measure.  The 2017 World Internet Project in New Zealand reached a similar conclusion from the 100 or so survey participants who did not use the internet – they simply didn’t see any reason to go online.

But this can change abruptly when local community services, such as post offices and banks close.  The ANZ bank in Taihape closed recently and a notice in the window explained that the nearest bank was in Marton, some 72.4km away.  A round trip to visit the Marton bank would now cost around $100 in fuel and other vehicle costs as well as take about two hours.  The need for online banking suddenly provides a strong motivation to connect to the internet.

Seniors, especially those in retirement homes and villages, face the prospect of becoming disconnected from their families and grandchildren, who often live in other parts of New Zealand or even overseas. this has consistently been recognised as one of the strongest motivators for seniors to go online. The challenge for seniors then becomes one of access and skills.

One of the most successful digital inclusion initiatives during the last 20 years has been the 20/20 Trust’s Computers in Homes programme.  This was based on the belief that parents and grandparents want their children to succeed at school and that access to digital technologies at home can help achieve this.  This has motivated nearly 20,000 families to participate, as families not only received access to digital technologies (computers and the internet) but also the skills to use the technologies to support their children’s learning.

Our view is that “motivation” is now the most important digital inclusion element.  Not discounting the fact that some people still face significant financial challenges in accessing digital digital technologies, the real challenge comes in provide an authentic context or reason to engage.