#techmums, the technology skills social enterprise, is calling for greater focus on digital skills education for mums and for more investment to fight digital illiteracy, as a new study shows that it negatively impacts their mental health and their ability to support their families.
One in five (19%) mums say they lack the digital skills to protect their children from online bullying, according to new research by #techmums. Mothers also feel they do not have the relevant digital skills to stop cyber bullying of their children, with 19% saying they lack the digital expertise to prevent bullying.
Almost a quarter of UK mums (22%) believe that limited tech skills negatively affects their mental health. One in five mothers reported a lack of digital literacy had limited their ability to return to the workforce (18%) or join the workforce for the first time (19%).
The research, which is supported by the financial services firm Capital One UK, reveals there is a strong belief that better digital skills would have a positive impact on the lives of mothers and their families: half (48%) of parents believe more digital knowledge would help them keep their children safe online. Over a third of parents (34%) say improved digital skills would improve their mental health, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
More than one in four (45%) mums say if their digital literacy skills were improved they could better support their children with their homework. In addition, 38% said better digital capability would improve their confidence, with 31% saying it would help them return to the workforce and 32% to join the workforce for the first time.
#techmums, the organisation founded by Professor Sue Black OBE in 2012, to support mums’ access to tech education, commissioned the research to gain a picture of the impact that digital illiteracy has on the lifestyles of mums across the UK, and their ability to support their children.
Digital illiteracy is reported to affect 12.6m people across the UK, meaning they lack basic digital skills such as knowing how to use a search engine, set up an online account, or use social media. #techmums runs initiatives designed to support mothers becoming more familiar, confident, and excited about the use of technology in their personal, professional, and parenting lives.
Lauren Allison, CEO of #techmums, said: “At #techmums, we recognise that when you ignite potential in a mother, you also have a knock-on positive effect in the lives of her children, her wider family, and in our society. So much of our daily lives is being revolutionised by technology – from how we talk to each other and get important information to how we bank and book essential services. It is crucial that we all have the skills to interact with technology in a way that enhances our lives. While these statistics are, sadly, not surprising, it underscores the need for us all to work harder in addressing the digital skills gap, particularly for mums.”
Professor Sue Black OBE, said: “I founded #techmums in response to the challenges mums were having in becoming confident with technology. As a mum whose life was radically changed and improved by technology, I know how important it is for us to show mums what opportunities lie out there for them, and by extension, their kids and wider families, as technology continues to rapidly change. This research highlights that, seven years on from my initial #techmums program, there is still a long way for us to go and if we want to truly address the digital skills gap, one of the most effective ways we can do that is by equipping mums with digital literacy. We need to see more awareness raising and investment in this area.”
The independent research was funded by Capital One UK, which is supporting #techmums to raise awareness of the need for greater digital inclusion, particularly for people from underprivileged communities.
Rob Harding, Chief Operations and Technology Officer for Capital One UK said, “We are proud to support #techmums in their efforts to improve digital access for hard to reach groups across the UK. Digital skills are a vital component of modern life and digital inclusion is a key focus area for us as a business.”