Digital Motivation: What, who and why?

Drawing used with thanks to Emily Redmond, Good Things Foundation
  1. What are the specific reasons people have for not engaging with the internet, below the level of ‘motivation’ or ‘trust’?
  2. How do these specific reasons vary by demographic (eg. unemployment, low skills, age), and which reasons are most important for different groups?
  3. To what extent are the reasons people give for being offline ‘masking’ other/deeper reasons or issues, including the role of proxy users?

Three things that particularly stood out to me (among many)

There are a lot of people that say “it’s not for me” and they now make up the lion’s share of non-users

We might have thought that people have well-formulated reasons for not using the internet. In fact, given half the chance, people will say it’s just not their bag. Sometimes this is due to a fear of using it; other times there’s no relevance to people’s day-to-day lives.

We don’t yet have a common understanding of what ‘digital’ is (but we assume we do)

Throughout the interviews, we started to notice something. People would self-declare (sometimes proudly) that they didn’t use the internet. Then, they would start talking about a mobile phone. And that would be followed up with references to using the phone for WhatsApp or Facebook.

The link between your life circumstances and how you perceive the internet is profound (and it’s not all about age)

The age at which you left education. Your social class. Your income. How confident you are with literacy in a general sense.

Find out more

Click here for the report in full, as well as some other resources we have produced on the back of the research.



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Tom French

Tom French


Data, insight and questioning strategies for social purpose through open working | Founded Sheffield Data for Good + Data for Action | Musician