Minimum Digital Living Standard

minimum digital living standards families surveyed

New Minimum Digital Living Standard Announced

A team of researchers from the University of Liverpool, Loughborough University, and the Good Things Foundation is pioneering a groundbreaking approach to defining “living standards” for the digital age. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, their important work has established a new Minimum Digital Living Standard (MDLS) for UK households with children.

Minimum Digital Living Standard report

Defining the Minimum Digital Living Standard (MDLS)

Researchers began the project by establishing what families need to be classed as digitally included, creating a benchmark that can ensure young people have the right combination of skills, technology, and access to thrive in the digitally-driven economies of the future.

“A minimum digital standard of living includes, but is more than, having accessible internet, adequate equipment, and the skills, knowledge, and support people need,” reads the report. “It is about being able to communicate, connect, and engage with opportunities safely and confidently.”

Creating the Minimum Digital Living Standard Framework

Phase two of the project surveyed 1,500 households with children to see how many meet or fall below the MDLS standard. The results will help government, industry, and civil society organisations create targeted initiatives to address digital skills and broadband access gaps.

The Importance of the Minimum Digital Living Standard

Digital technology has become integral to almost all aspects of daily life, and this trend will only continue. But simply having a laptop or affordable broadband connection isn’t enough anymore. Instead, young people need access and technology combined with education and confidence.

“Families’ views about what should be included in a Minimum Digital Living Standard highlight that a laptop or smartphone on its own is not enough, just as having a car parked outside your house is not much use if you don’t have fuel or know how to drive,” states the report. “Being able to get online is essential, but knowing how to use their devices and the internet effectively and safely is crucial.”

A Holistic Approach to Digital Inclusion

The Minimum Digital Living Standard represents a groundbreaking approach to redefining living standards in the digital age. It addresses the skills, knowledge, and support necessary for individuals and families to engage confidently and safely in the digital world.

Simeon Yates, Professor of Digital Culture at the University of Liverpool, is excited about developing the MDLS through direct engagement with families. He believes it has the potential to drive true digital inclusion, giving young people in lower-income households the opportunities to learn today and succeed in the future.

“We can now measure digital inclusion informed by people’s everyday lived experience,” said Professor Yates. “Our definition is holistic, grounded in everyday life and rooted in what people need to feel included and participate in the digital world around them.”

“With the cost-of-living crisis placing more pressure on household budgets, there is an increasing risk that those on the lowest incomes become digitally excluded.”

“Establishing MDLS reduces this risk. We look forward to collaborating with communities, governments, and industry to bring digital inclusion to the forefront of policy-making and work to ensure that MDLS is met in all areas.”

How 6G Internet Helps Families Reach the Minimum Living Standard

6G Internet understands that access and education drive real digital inclusion.

That’s why we started the Internet for Everyone campaign. It gives away free internet to families, schools, and organisations in every town where we build. We also provide free devices to school children, and charities are using our free broadband to run digital skills training courses.

“We think the new Minimum Digital Living Standards are precisely what the UK needs if it wants to build a digitally inclusive society, and they align perfectly with the work we do to help local people stay connected and learn new digital skills, even if they can’t afford a broadband connection,” says Ian Clough, from 6G Internet. 

“We’ll be keeping a close eye on this initiative and have reached out to the researchers to see how we can get directly involved. So watch this space.”

Learn more about our Internet for Everyone campaign.