When I initially heard about the Post Office and Google Digital Garage offering free digital workshops and 1:1 coaching, I thought about my 82-year-old neighbour, Sylvia. Syl (as she likes to be called) lost her husband, Den (Dennis) last year. She doesn’t drive, has never owned a mobile phone until now and I have been teaching her how to text and do an online shop with the iPad her daughter bought her. One year on and she may only be able to send a text and answer a call, but a recent stay in hospital meant she had enough tools to send a smiley face emoji to show that she was feeling better. Big progress for an 82 year old, she is very pleased to be able to use simple technology.
My three boys cannot believe that I grew up without mobile phones and the internet. I feel like my Dad with some of the comments I come out with. “Back in our day, we used to look things up in books, we never used the internet to Google things we simply went to the library.”
The more I think about it, perhaps I am more of a digital dinosaur that I realise. I mean, I can use an iPhone, Google docs, a basic Excel spreadsheet and Skype but that is where it stops. My nephew is at Manchester University studying cyber security and computer programming, he can code programmes, clean my computer from virus’ and navigates himself round like I do using a pen and paper, with comfort and ease. I feel like I am lagging behind and I’m not alone.
As many as one in five people (20%) do not feel digitally confident – rising to one in two when using modern digital devices, including home assistants (46%) and smart watches (50%), according to research commissioned by Post Office Broadband. I can believe this, we recently bought Alexa and I have only used it once. I have never used a smart watch but would like one to track my fitness. Things are moving so fast and ideas such as virtual reality are creeping into our lives at a rate of knots.
Overall, a fifth of people lack confidence using everyday devices such as a smartphone (17%) or apps (21%), while as many as 53% struggle with smart home devices and 31% with smart TVs. Even 16% of 18-24 year olds lack assurance with technology – 22% are not confident with smart TVs, 33% with a smart watch, and 27% with a smart music device. Unsurprisingly, older generations struggle the most (39% of over 65s don’t feel confident using a smartphone, 44% using apps, 48% using a smart TV, 71% using a home assistance device and 78% using a smart watch).
Ronan Harris, Google UK & Ireland Managing Director, said: “In the digital age, a basic understanding of how the online world works is useful and when it comes to business, it’s essential. We are delighted to partner with the Post Office and ensure everyone has access to free digital skills workshops and 1:1 coaching. We hope you’ll pop in and get the skills you need to you need to grow your confidence, career or business.”
I am heading to Southampton on Friday 6th July to join the Post Office and Google Digital Garage drop-in workshops. They are free of charge and an opportunity to cover topics such as ‘Device Advice’, ‘Staying Safe Online’ and ‘Getting Started online.’
They will be free and open to anyone who wants to take part to grow their confidence online. To register your interest and come along to one of the sessions then find out more by calling (0800 068 1791) or registering here https://www.postofficedigitaldrop-ins.co.uk/
Sessions are still to take place in the next few weeks at beautiful libraries in cities that were revealed to be the least digitally confident – Plymouth, Cardiff, Norwich, Belfast and Southampton. Hope to see you there.
Disclosure : I am working in collaboration with The Post Office on this project, all words are my own and I cannot wait to get some tips on how to clear my laptop which is flashing “full disc at me right now.”