Brits are confident using Facebook and email – but many are stumped when it comes to more complex tasks like booking medical appointments or making a video call, according to new research by Virgin Media O2 and digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, to mark Get Online Week (16-22 October).
The study reveals using PowerPoint, photo editing tools and playing games console are other tasks people struggle to do online.
A poll of 2,000 adults found only 54 per cent consider themselves ‘tech savvy’, while 43 per cent feel there are so many apps, online platforms and software, they can’t keep up with them – which rises to 58 per cent for people aged 65 or over.
And 38 per cent said they face challenges because of their lack of tech skills, resulting in more than fifth (21 per cent) feeling like they’re being left behind.
While 14 per cent even say there have been points in their lives where they could have considered themselves ‘digitally illiterate’.
To help the nation to learn and improve its digital skills, Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation are hosting hundreds of free workshops across the UK to mark Get Online Week.
Dana Haidan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “We know for many people technology can be daunting – especially with new apps, online services and tools like AI appearing all the time.
“It can be hard to know where to get help with computers, phones and tablets, and how to get the best from the internet.
“That’s why as part of our goal to improve the digital skills of six million people by the end of 2025, we’re offering hundreds of free digital skills lessons at community organisations across the UK this Get Online Week with Good Things Foundation.
“We want to help people feel more confident and capable online – whether it’s learning how to book online medical appointments, uploading a CV to a jobs site or video calling a loved one.”
The study also found that more than a third (37 per cent) of Brits believe learning digital skills is more important than being able to read or write.
But almost a third (29 per cent) of respondents said they had never had someone show them how to improve their digital skills.
And 20 per cent feel they missed out on an opportunity to learn how to do a basic online task, and feel it’s now too late to learn.
According to the OnePoll.com figures, of those who have struggled with a piece of technology, 17 per cent report it has slowed down their life and made it inconvenient.
Those with low household incomes – earning between £15,000 to £30,000 – said they’d struggle to use AI tools like Chat GPT (39 per cent) or take part in virtual job interview (22 per cent), and even one in 10 aren’t comfortable using a tablet.
Despite this, almost a quarter of Brits (23 per cent) are motivated to learn so they can improve their digital skills.
Helen Milner OBE, CEO, Good Things Foundation said: “Since the pandemic we’ve seen the digital divide deepen. People excluded from the internet are locked out of all of the economic benefits it brings, like saving money, improved job prospects and the ability to work flexibly – as well as the higher risk of loneliness.
“This research confirms what we already know about the digital skills gap – with one in five adults lacking the most basic digital skills needed for everyday life.
“That’s why during our annual national campaign, Get Online Week, the National Digital Inclusion Network is hosting events for their local communities to help them get online.
“This underpins the wider work Good Things Foundation is doing with Virgin Media O2 and our partners to get data, devices and digital skills to the people who need help the most.
“Together we can help fix the digital divide – for good.”