Internet: Older People

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 21st January 2021.

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Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that elderly people are able to access online services safely.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State

The Government supports the provision of basic digital skills training for adults in community settings through the Adult Education Budget. We have introduced new essential digital skills qualifications (EDSQs) based on new national standards for essential digital skills. Adults with no or low digital skills can study essential digital skills qualifications for free.

Public libraries are also a vital component in tackling digital exclusion. There are around 2,900 public libraries in England providing a trusted network of accessible locations offering free Wi-Fi, computers, and other technology. The library staff, supported by volunteers, have been trained on digital skills to enable them to provide library users with support in using digital. Their vital role has been recognised in exceptions to tier and national restrictions, where after the first lock-down public libraries have been permitted to allow people to use library buildings for public PC use to access essential public services.

As set out in the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper Consultation, the Government is developing an Online Media Literacy Strategy. This Strategy will explore the existing media literacy landscape, and ensure a strategic and coordinated approach to media literacy education. We are committed to ensuring that the Strategy is inclusive and supports all users, including older people, to improve their media literacy levels. The Strategy will be published in Spring 2021.

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