I can do it alone! When digital support transforms daily life

Reading and responding to emails. Using a search engine to find information. Downloading an application on a smartphone. Typing a letter in a word processing software. Transferring photos to a USB key. Logging in to your CAF, Ameli, Impôts account... Do all of these tasks seem obvious to you? However, this is far from being the case for all French people. To train, support, and make them autonomous, structures are mobilizing. So that digital technology becomes truly accessible to everyone.

Sometimes it's a lack of equipment: when electronic devices, mobile plans, and the Internet are beyond one's means. In other cases, the lack of familiarity or fear of making mistakes becomes a barrier. Finally, sometimes a complete ignorance of devices, software, and online services prevents people from accessing the digital world.

This problem is becoming increasingly severe, even as the dematerialization of basic services (social benefits, administrative procedures, banking, health, transportation, etc.) accelerates. This phenomenon has become even more pronounced since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, regardless of their profile, people who are not at ease with digital technology can find help near their homes.

Digital mediator/counsellor: assistance towards autonomy

By working with people who are not used to digital equipment and tools, the digital counsellor helps them gradually familiarize themselves with these tools. The goal is for them to become independent in using these tools in various situations, both professional and personal.

In addition to their own digital skills, a mediator must possess some additional qualities. For example, they must know how to adapt to the person in front of them, be patient and pedagogical, in short, they must be able to rely on both their interpersonal skills and their expertise.

Sébastien, 29 years old and a future digital mediator

Sébastien embarked on a degree in Information Technology (called MTI) to become a digital mediator. During an interview last week, he told me what he has observed since the beginning of his classes.

In his group, the other seven participants are almost all aged 50 or over. They are there to learn how to use a computer, word processing software, or a spreadsheet, understand how to search the web, and learn to use an email account. At the end of the 5-week training course, they will take the Pix certification and (re)start their job search.

Because it is almost inconceivable today to find work when you do not have digital skills. Anyway, even to check job offers and apply, almost everything is done online.

Sébastien knows much more than his colleagues, so he already helps them to get used to devices, software, and internet browsing. During the first few days, he noticed that some of them didn't know how to use a mouse. Later, he saw that some basic manipulations, such as copying and pasting an image, saving a file, and finding it again, were far from obvious for them.

He also noted that on the web, identifying sponsored links is a real problem. Too often, his colleagues click on advertisements without paying attention and end up on pages they didn't intend to visit.

After a few weeks, Sebastian had already noticed some changes. The most obvious was Jean, who does not have a computer at home. He began to acquire certain habits and made better use of the machine.

However, Sebastian believes that the training is too short for those starting from scratch. It would take them several months to really get used to digital technology. This is why he will continue his path to become a digital advisor, to continue to support those in need.

Structures Serving Digital Technology for Everyone

For several years, the French government has become aware of the extent of the digital divide and launched various initiatives. These complement (and sometimes overlap) each other to form an ecosystem that fights against digital illiteracy. Notably, we can mention the France Services Digital Advisors, the Grande Ecole du Numérique, not to mention the online public service Pix... and a whole host of devices listed on the societenumerique.gouv.fr website.

People who are uncomfortable with digital technology can also turn to the nonprofit sector. For example, the Emmaus Connect association offers "fun workshops of all levels to develop autonomy online." If you want to donate your time to pass on your digital skills, the association is looking for volunteers.

Of course, one can question the fact of having to go online to find information on digital support... while being oneself powerless in the face of this type of approach. If you have enough skills to read this article, spread the word around you! Make these devices known, so that digital technology really becomes a common good.

[Cover photo: Maksym Ostrozhynskyy]

Tell us about yourself

Within your inner circle, do you know anyone struggling with digital technology? Are they aware that they can get help from a digital advisor?

A digital that is accessible to all and does not exhaust the planet's resources: a future challenge that we can address now. My mission: to find responsible, ethical, and inclusive initiatives that are moving things in the right direction.


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