ABSTRACT

Throughout this book we have highlighted the diversity in the ways that teenagers use new technologies and the varying implications this use has in their lives. For the most part we have focused on those young people who are relatively typical in their access, experiences and uses of technology. Yet, contrary to popular opinion not all fit within this mainstream group. Indeed, there are a substantial minority of the teenage population who cannot use new technologies in the ways that their peers take for granted. In this chapter we explore why this is the case and what it really means to be an intermittent user of the Internet and other new technologies. In other words, an ‘outlier’ compared to the digital mainstream. First we summarise the key ‘dimensions of inequality’ in uptake of new technologies: access, support networks, skills and confidence and use. Next, in ‘Relationship between social and digital exclusion’ we consider the extent to which limited or non-existent use of new technologies by young people can be considered some kind of ‘digital choice’. Then in Outliers we explore the experiences of three groups of young people: those who do not have sustained Internet access at home, looked after children who experience significant restrictions on their Internet use, and young people with special educational needs who often need significant support to go online. Finally, in ‘What are the impacts’ we consider the implications of being outside the digital mainstream in both qualitative and quantitative terms.