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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 04:02 GMT 05:02 UK
Britons still 'scared' of computers
Computer user
National Computing Day aims to get people using computers
Britons are still scared of computers, the net, e-mail and shy away from newer things like MP3s, research shows.

More than half are nervous about using e-mail and the net, says a survey published on National Computing Day.

Despite the push by the UK Government to get everyone online by 2005, many just do not think knowing about computers is important.

National Computing Day is an annual event intended to encourage people to improve their computer skills.


The survey of 2000 UK adults showed that 42% of people are not confident enough to use a computer at all.

Of those who use PCs, over 80% do not use them to their full potential and many do not want to learn more.

Computeractive magazine, who commissioned the research, believe that one of the most concerning aspects is that people are not interested in learning more about computing.

Computing has come a long way in the past 50 years. Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory/SPL.

"It is increasingly hard to avoid technology in everyday life, never mind at work," said James Harding, the magazine's editor.

"But for some reason, as a population we are struggling to keep up skills-wise with technology, even with such fundamental things as PCs and their capacity for internet access and e-mail."

Only 28% believe that knowing about computing is important in the 21st century.

Andrew Pinder, the government's man in charge of getting the country's businesses and people online by 2005, said he hoped that events like National Computing Day would help change people's minds.

"It's the perfect opportunity for all of us to take a look at where we need to improve our computer skills to harness the technological future."

MP3 what?

Out of those who do use computers in their everyday lives, two thirds do not think they need to know more than they do already.

Just over 80% say they are not bothered about getting better at what they do on the net.

Using the internet at home

The results make sobering reading for those hoping that high-speed broadband will encourage people to do more with their computers too.

Downloading MP3 music files, something which works best on a high-speed connection, scares many, with only 13% feel confident about using such technologies.

Slightly more, a fifth, are comfortable with burning or recording music onto CDs but there are still very few who are interested in learning about it.

The results reveal there needs to be more work done to show people what they could do with new technologies.

Recent research by the Oxford Internet Institute about UK's net habits showed that only 59% regularly venture online, even though 88% of Brits have access, through work, home, or public places like computing centres of libraries,

Many are either scared of computers or just do not see why they would help them in their lives.

"That's the aim of National Computing Day, to take the fear out of computing and help people become that little bit better at using technology across the board," said Computeractive's James Harding.

"We want people across the UK to use technology to help them get even more out of life - both at home and at work."

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