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What has digitalization entailed from the perspective of citizens?

In Finland there are significant differences in the use of electronic services in different age groups.

In recent years digitalization has become the term for describing current trends in politics, business and consumer behavior. On a general level digitalization refers to the ways in which digital technology becomes an increasingly integral part of various everyday practices. As such digitalization can be regarded as a long-term path of development which kicked off in the Western world in the 1980s with the introduction of personal computers.

The Internet began to proliferate in Finland after the mid-1990s, when service providers too started developing their own electronic services. Since then faster computers and Internet connections have allowed for developments such as the mobile Internet and the social Internet, which further speed up the processes of digitalization. These ongoing processes have changed for example business strategies in different fields and widened the scope of channels for exerting community-based and democratic influence.

In its broadest meaning, digitalization is making the whole economic and social order increasingly global. Yet the differences in Internet use purposes between different age groups remain considerable.

New technologies require citizens to constantly adapt to new things. Our ways of life and daily choices are to a great extent based on private consumption and transactions. As technologies develop, different services are increasingly available through electronic means. The commercial and public digital landscape keeps expanding. It is probable that transitions such as moving from bank and credit cards to mobile payments will not be equally effortless for all age groups. After all, it is a well-known fact that worries about information security and resistance to the adoption of new practices are particularly persistent among older age groups.

It is crucial for the development of the information society as well as for ensuring economic competitiveness that all population groups stay on the bandwagon of development. This point of view ought to be attended to even in macro-economic considerations.

As the figure shows there are significant differences in the use of electronic services between Finns of age group 16 to 34 years (blue line), 35 to 54 years (red line), and those over 55 (grey line). The percentages illustrate the usage of different electronic services during the last three months, except for the variable that measures the use of public services online, the measure of which is use in the last twelve months.

Figure. Different purposes of Internet use according to age group, 2006-2014 (%).

Source: The use of information and communications technologies by individuals and households survey by Statistics Finland. The percentages represent Finnish population aged 16 to 74.

Summary of ”Koiranen, Ilkka & Räsänen, Pekka & Södergård, Caj (2016): Mitä digitalisaatio on tarkoittanut kansalaisen näkökulmasta? Talous & Yhteiskunta. 44:3, 24-29.”

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