Bridges across the digital divide

By Christian BlockLex KlerenMisch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

Digitalisation is penetrating more and more areas of life. In the process, many people risk being left behind. Digital inclusion work tries to prevent just that.

How do I send photos via smartphone? What is the difference between a laptop and a tablet? How does a video call work? Or, more recently, how does the Covid Check app work, and how do I get my vaccination certificate on my mobile phone? Mara Kroth often gets questions like these. This was also the case at the Smartphone Café organised by GoldenMe last December in Esch/Alzette.

With these informal get-togethers, the non-profit association is one of several initiatives now working on digital inclusion – and has a lot to do with it. "I think you can basically say that the way things are going at the moment is the opposite of digital inclusion", says Mara Kroth. By this, she means the increasingly frequent replacement of analogue procedures with digital ones. For those who can cope with it, the digitalisation of processes usually means an increase in comfort and speed, for example, when one is no longer dependent on the opening hours and telephone availability of office staff to make an appointment. The downside is that part of society cannot cope with these changes. "The moment you don't take a certain group with you or don't facilitate access, digital inclusion doesn't happen." Kroth reports, for example, the case of an elderly lady who, when calling her doctor (via smartphone), reached an answering machine at the other end of the line. The recorded message asked the caller to make an appointment either by mail or via a digital provider. "In a situation like this, you either have to seek help or you have a problem. That's not very inclusive", says Kroth and therefore sees the "digital divide" as a form of division in society. One should not underestimate "what this does to people", she warns. GoldenMe tries to build a bridge across the digital divide and in this way also prevent social isolation. "Digital inclusion means creating offers to bring people along who are simply not digital natives and don't have easy access."

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