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Opportunities and challenges of the digital lifespan

Opportunities and challenges of the digital lifespan: views of service providers and citizens in the UK

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-29
Number of pages16
JournalInformation, Communication and Society
Volume21
Issue number1
Early online date17 Nov 2016
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 17 Nov 2016

Abstract

Information about UK citizens’ use of digital technologies is often expressed in statistics – x% lack Internet access; y% get online to engage in online banking, update social media sites, or participate in online auctions. There are many social implications to digital technology use, however – individuals may communicate online as a major way to stay in touch with friends and family, and as Internet access rises and government and public sector budgets shrink, online services become an increasingly attractive way for government and public sector service providers to communicate with citizens. This paper presents selected results of an exploratory study designed to investigate the digital personhood of UK citizens through interviews with participants at three life transitions: leaving secondary school, becoming a parent, and retiring from work. Digital personhood in this paper implies identity information online, and some interaction with others around that information. We then report on our presentation of a selection of these results to thirteen stakeholders who represented UK government departments, public sector organisations, and industry. We found that citizen and stakeholder concerns were quite different, especially at the new parent life transition, and that stakeholders tended to underestimate the willingness and ability of citizens to become involved online with the government and public sector, and overestimate citizens’ vulnerability online. Future research should investigate practical strategies for increasing communication between stakeholders and citizens, and also how to encourage stakeholders to work together to benefit their common clientele – the citizens.

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    © 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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