If Internet has become a central element in the lives of a majority of French people, many still have difficulty using it. According to an INSEE study published Thursday, 15.4% of the population was affected by illiteracy in 2021.
By this term, INSEE designates people who do not use the Internet for a long period of time as well as those who do not have the basic skills to navigate effectively (search for information, communicate, use software, protect their privacy , solve problems). There are thus 13.9% of French people who have never connected in the last three months at the time of the survey and 1.5% who have connected but without having sufficient digital skills.
The Covid, a boost
Unsurprisingly, the older generations are the most concerned: 62% of those over 75 fall into the category of illectronism, compared to only 2% of 15-24 year olds. The level of education is also an important factor. According to INSEE, a person without a diploma is seven times more likely to suffer from it than a person with at least a bac+3.
However, the Institute emphasizes a positive point: illiteracy down three points between 2019 and 2021. And this cannot be explained by the renewal of generations. “This decline is not driven by a change in the structure of the population […] but through a change in behaviors related to information and communication technologies,” the study says.
For INSEE, the cause of this progression is all found: it is the Covid pandemic, and its confinements, which pushed the French people least comfortable with the Internet to connect.
Inequalities by region
But the digital divide remains strong. While many tasks, especially administrative, are now mainly done on the web, 12% of French people still do not have access to the Internet, including half of those over 75 years old. And like a double penalty, it is in the most isolated territories that illectronism is strongest.
Thus, this problem concerns 22% of people living outside urban areas, which is more than 6 points above the national average. In small urban areas, the rate of illiteracy sticks to this average. And in agglomerations of more than 700,000 inhabitants, they are “only” 13% to be concerned.
INSEE also notes a certain disparity between regions. Logically, those with an older than average population are more affected. The rate of illiteracy thus climbs to 19% in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Centre-Val de Loire. Conversely, regions with large urban centers and a younger population, such as Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Brittany, Pays de la Loire and especially Ile-de-France, are below the national average.