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In summary, the Internet has become both integral and essential to the daily lives of most people. Many people worry they may be exposing themselves to a range of risks when they use the Internet, and most of those people do not feel confident in their skills and ability to reduce those risks. At the same time, the Internet sometimes provides an absolutely critical pathway to well-being for people who have very few options or resources.

On balance, it seems clear that digital inclusion is essential to the social inclusion of the vast majority of New Zealanders, and especially young people. Having the skill to navigate the Internet both safely and with confidence is essential to genuine digital inclusion. For children, in particular, this depends on having parents or guardians who can skillfully support them, including through limits and boundaries, to access the Internet in safe and healthy ways.

Barriers to access

The barriers people identified to Internet access fell into six broad categories:

  1. cost

  2. physical access (including infrastructure, accessible spaces and adaptive devices for people with disabilities)

  3. motivation (including the motivation of parents and guardians)

  4. trust and safety

  5. skills

  6. capacity.