Disconnected in the digital age

Getting by without the internet in the digital age is the focus of a research project involving Federation University.

The study, in partnership with Monash University, will look at the impact on residents who have no access to the internet, in particular proxy users – those who go online on behalf of others.

“Little research has been done on people who don’t use the internet,” School of Education deputy head Nicola Johnson said.

“More and more we are expected to do things online and there is this assumption everyone has internet access.

“This leads to growing concerns over how non-users are able to get by in an internet-orientated world.”

The research hopes to uncover details about what stops people from going online and the support needed to get by.

Prisoners, people in hospitals, those with disabilities along with residents in remote areas are the focal point of the project, with an emphasis on how the lack of access affects the daily lives of those who use the internet on their behalf.

“Do these people mind (using the internet on their behalf) or do they see it as a burden? That’s what we want to understand,” Dr Johnson said.

“How can we help them?”

She said the project also needed to take into consideration the potential to delay non-users’ independent use of the internet if they continued to rely on others.

“We need to think about how to provide support for these non-users and assist them to get online, if appropriate,” Dr Johnson said.

Members of the public who assist others with internet use are invited to participate in the research project.

For more information or to take part in the survey, visit bit.ly/online4others