New generations grew up having internet access as a given, at least in some parts of the world. While the most developed urban areas benefit from fast and widespread internet connection, rural areas or those in the process of development are facing serious issues in providing internet to citizens.
Nowadays, digital technologies and the internet are essential for work activities, education, social interactions, healthcare, transport or e-commerce. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the process of digital transformation and use of the internet, but at the same time, the OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2020 shows that the crisis has amplified disparities between internet users and those without this opportunity.
How could internet access be expressed in numbers?
- As of 2021, there is a global 65.6% internet penetration rate, with more than 5 billion active users;
- Asia has the most internet users (53.4%), while Oceania/Australia has the least (0.6%);
- The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) shows that at the European Union (EU) level, Finland has the highest scores on the use of internet services, while Romania has the lowest percentage from the EU member states.
What about the digital divide?
There are real gaps between people who have access to the internet and the digital space, or those who have limited or no access to it. Currently, the digital divide is holding back almost half of the world’s population and it has three main forms: the access divide, the use divide and the quality-of-use gap. To bridge these gaps, digital literacy and education are needed, raising awareness and increasing public understanding of the benefits of technology into people’s lives, but also investing in digital infrastructures.
Young people, youth workers and the internet
Young people have brought more added value to internet-based opportunities than ever before. They are now able to conduct cutting-edge research using new technologies, to implement innovative ideas and to be up to date with digital advancement. Youth workers, trainers and other experts in the youth sector are also relying on internet services to bring their activities to the next level. They are able to use interactive digital tools that make the best use of young people’s creativity, passion and determination into delivering the promise of NextGen Internet.