Researching how families engagement with digital technology

Key findings

Our research into how families engage with digital technologies has been bountiful. In the first of a series of publications, we hope to convince policy-makers and the many non-profit and charitable organisations, and schools, to rethink our objectives for an inclusive digitalised society.

Underlying longstanding debates about the digital divide have been a revolving set of corporate and government objectives who worry that our vulnerable citizens, young, old, disabled, ethnic or refugee communities may be left behind, creating new social inequalities.

However, the technological deterministic view of the internet and evolving digital services and technologies as resolving longstanding socio-economic differences (most often linked to social class) has been found wanting, time and time again.

We put such faith in technology to solve social issues, when what we really need is to examine the social differences arising from class which continue to result in different digital outcomes for children.

This project started with an open mind, using qualitative methods to explore families. It observes the existing social, economic and cultural capital within families, and what sorts of engagement with digital technologies this generates. Able to shed light as to why some children appear to gain little from using digital technology, and others might be highly confident, motivated and active, engaging with digital technologies and services in ways that develop various forms of capital.

"A family's digital disposition has huge influence over children's digital inclusion outcomes - perhaps more so than school digital literacy programs"