‘Digital divide’ still hard to cross

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An estimated 400,000 persons over the age of 55 remain firmly off-line in Norway, even though companies and state authorities assume most Norwegians are computer literate and active users of the Internet.

“These people, most of them elderly, are being discriminated against,” Ingeborg Moræus Hanssen of the activist group Seniornett told newspaper Dagsavisen.  Seniornett based its estimate of the offline segment of the population on figures from state statistics bureau SSB and surveys from Sweden and Denmark.

In addition to the 400,000 offline are 200,000 Norwegians over the age of 80 who have never used the Internet. That means 600,000 persons can’t or won’t read news sites or use online banking, for example, and wind up paying much higher fees for traditional invoices on paper.

Hanssen believes both the private and public sectors are discriminating against those with no computer expertise or access. The roughly 400,000 residents who are never clicking into the Internet are becoming increasingly unable to take part in society, she said, in line with those who are online.

Hanssen has been actively holding computer training sessions for seniors through Seniornett but believes it’s a public responsibility to get more people online. Paul Chaffey, a state secretary in the new government, called Seniornett’s efforts to boost computer competence “important and valuable,” and claimed the government was keen to narrow the digital divide.

“I think many seniors view the Internet as something scary and complicated,” 87-year-old Trygve Davidsen told Dagsavisen. He goes online regularly, but has trouble using mobile phones and iPads because of their small screens.

newsinenglish.no staff