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Survey: One in three people under the age of 25 has suffered from loneliness as society becomes more digitalised – Expert: “Not all young people have equal opportunities to participate in digital society”

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DNA’s recent Digital Inclusion in Finland survey reveals that the digitalisation of society has caused feelings of loneliness for one in three people aged 15 to 24. The proportion of young people is considerable, as only around one in six in the entire population has experienced digital loneliness. According to an expert, not all Finns have the same opportunities to access digital society.

Exclusion from digital services and social relationships is felt especially by young people, for whom belonging to a group is an important part of building their identity.
Exclusion from digital services and social relationships is felt especially by young people, for whom belonging to a group is an important part of building their identity.

“In practice, digital loneliness means being excluded from digital services and social information. This can be seen, for example, in school or hobbies, where registrations often take place online. Not all young people have equal opportunities to participate in digital society”, says Eveliina Hostila, Executive Director of Hope – Yhdessä & Yhteisesti ry.

The association cooperates with DNA to promote the digital inclusion of low-income families in Finland.

The survey examined how well digital inclusion is realised in Finland. Respondents were asked, among other things, whether the digitalisation of society has caused them to feel lonely. The responses revealed that around one in three (31%) young people aged 15 to 24 has experienced digital loneliness. The proportion is considerable, as only one in six (16%) of all respondents reported experiencing loneliness.  

“Digitalisation is now a very large part of young people’s lives, but may not play such a major role in the world of older age groups. Exclusion from digital services and social relationships is felt especially by young people, for whom belonging to a group is an important part of building their identity. That is why it is often accompanied by shame and even bullying”, says Vilhelmiina Wahlbeck, VP Corporate Communications and Sustainability at DNA.

Some Finns at risk of falling out of society

The survey also found that about a quarter (23%) of people who do not own a smart phone feel excluded from society as a result of the digitalisation of services. Correspondingly, only 6% of those who do own a smart phone feel the same way.

According to the survey, older generations and people with physical limitations to using digital services are the most vulnerable. 

Hostila and Wahlbeck are concerned about the results. According to them, people who do not have access to the digital world are at risk of being completely left out of society. This creates a deeper divide between people.

“Often the problem is that part of the population does not have the necessary digital skills or tools to use the services. For instance, now that libraries have been open on a limited basis or completely closed during the coronavirus pandemic, there has not even been a common public space where you could use a computer to take care of things. Another problem is that digital skills cannot be developed without the necessary tools", says Eveliina Hostila.

Survey highlighted great concern for loved ones

The survey also asked whether respondents have people close to them who have been excluded from society as a result of digitalisation. According to the responses, as many as one in three (33%) has at least one such person in his or her immediate circle.

In addition, more than a third (38%) of people fear that someone close to them will be left out of society in the next ten years due to a lack of digital skills or digital tools.

“The figure is very high, and one element of this is the tremendously rapid digital development. Moreover, the development of digital skills is often the responsibility of the individual or those close to them," Wahlbeck says.

DNA’s goal is to promote digital inclusion in Finland

According to Vilhelmiina Wahlbeck the rapid digitalisation of the world offers society a wide range of opportunities, but at the same time not all Finns have the necessary devices or skills to cope in digital society. 

"With Hope ry, our intention has been to help low-income families with children by donating hundreds of smart phones per year, and the situation of many families is so tight that each phone already has a pre-chosen recipient who is very much looking forward to it”.

DNA works closely with SOS Children’s Villages Finland, the Helsinki Mission, Protect Children, and Hope ry. The aim of the cooperation is to prevent digital inequality among the elderly, children, young people and families of limited means, as well as to promote children’s digital skills in Finland.

How the survey was conducted

The aim of the Digital Inclusion in Finland survey was to investigate the realisation of digital inclusion in Finland; interest in and adoption of new digital devices and services, existing devices and connections, and use of digital services. More than 1,000 Finns responded to the interviews, which were conducted through both an online panel and telephone interviews. Norstat Finland Oy was responsible for the survey’s data collection, and Salmi Systems Oy was responsible for the planning, reporting and analysis of the survey.

More information for the media / More information:

Vilhelmiina Wahlbeck, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Sustainability, DNA Plc, tel. +358 (0)44 040 1671, vilhelmiina.wahlbeck@dna.fi

Eveliina Hostila, Executive Director, Hope Yhdessä & Yhteisesti ry, tel. +358 (0)40 931 0114, eveliina.hostila@hopeyhdistys.fi

DNA Corporate Communications, tel. +358 (0)44 044 8000, communications@dna.fi

Attachement: (in Finnish only) The survey report (PDF)

Hope – Yhdessä & Yhteisesti ry acts together for the common good. We assist families with children facing poverty or crises on a volunteer basis and with confidentiality. With your help, we are making the dream of children having more equal opportunities for a good everyday life a reality. We make concrete donations of clothing and goods to families, as well as provide support for hobbies and recreational experiences for children and young people.

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Exclusion from digital services and social relationships is felt especially by young people, for whom belonging to a group is an important part of building their identity.
Exclusion from digital services and social relationships is felt especially by young people, for whom belonging to a group is an important part of building their identity.
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http://www.dna.fi

DNA is one of the leading telecommunications companies in Finland. We want to make our customers' daily lives less complicated. We offer connections, services and devices for homes and workplaces, contributing to the digitalisation of society. DNA's customers are continuously among the world mobile data usage leaders. DNA has about 3.6 million subscriptions in its fixed and mobile communications networks. The company has been awarded numerous times as an excellent employer and family-friendly workplace. In 2020, our total revenue was EUR 934 million and we employ about 1,600 people around Finland. DNA is a part of Telenor Group, a leading telecommunications company across the Nordics. More information: www.dna.fi, Twitter @DNA_fi, Facebook @DNA.fi and LinkedIn @DNA-Oyj.

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