The shift to a digital version of our lives has been experienced and analysed by scientists and analysts of several sectors. Data are overwhelming when one discusses how people use social media to communicate and most interestingly how they opt for online services when it comes to shopping, travelling and socialising. Given the speed at which these behavioural trends are adapted, society is experiencing digital exclusion that is affecting all demographics in different ways.

There are multiple studies investigating the size of digital exclusion and they are mostly outside the scope of the present text. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that according to, over 11 million people in the UK alone currently lack the basics either in terms of education, skills, confidence or equipment to go online. This reflects a staggering 21% of the UK population. We are dealing with something serious that is definitely worth the effort and money spent towards closing the exclusion gap. Needless to say, numbers are even worse in other EU countries.

Part of the problem also includes access to government services offered online. Nevertheless, a large paradox occurs in this scenario. Governments at any level (local or central) typically offer transactional services that can be completed by visiting or calling a council (or other government service). Most of the people typically found excluded from other types of online services e.g. elderly, have a clear understanding of how to benefit from these services. In other words, they know the process of paying for something, where they will vote or how to apply for their tax return. This is the result of accumulated experience but also the result of these procedures being around for decades. These procedures have themselves matured and found their way into public-domain knowledge. They do not always work well but previous generations feel comfortable with them. And this is where the paradox comes in.

Even though middle-aged or elderly individuals have a clear knowledge of the processes, slow and cumbersome as they might be, the next generation of young voters, young professionals and young parents doesn’t. Millennials have been the “result” of a rather busy past twenty years. No other generation in the history of humanity has been exposed to so much information and “new ways of doing things”. Thus, the paradox we are faced with is that the people best trained to use technology do not really have any respectively modern service to consume when it comes to government. We are faced with exclusion of those better trained to use more efficient and productive tools.

Governments and policy makers need to take this into account. They have to understand that indifference for politics and commons will only rise if we don’t create services that use interfaces young people understand. Services that are available on social media, services that allow payments from a mobile phone, services that give support for an application on WhatsApp. If we do not think of the needs of future voters, the paradox fed by government services will have an unexpected effect in the years to come. And what better way to do this than bringing the conversation to them. Luckily the tools they understand were made with unprecedented levels of networking and participation in mind.

All we have to do is start a discussion with them through the mediums they use daily i.e. social media and the internet as a whole. This will hopefully allow them to design more effective services and consequently elect governments that can represent them better.