Millions do not meet minimum standard for digital social inclusion

a boy wearing headphones looking at a laptop

Nearly four million households with children in the UK do not meet the Minimum Digital Living Standard (MDLS), according to new research.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool, Loughborough University, City University, Good Things Foundation and Critical Research conducted a UK-wide survey which found that 3.7 million (4 in 10) households with children in the UK do not meet MDLS.

The definition of Minimum Digital Living Standard  is:

A minimum digital standard of living includes, but is more than, having accessible internet, adequate equipment, and the skills, knowledge, and support people need. It is about being able to communicate, connect, and engage with opportunities safely and with confidence.

MDLS sets out a basket of goods services and skills that families need to be digitally included. Every item in the ‘basket’ was carefully deliberated through a structured process, building on the well-established Minimum Income Standard methodology developed by Loughborough University

The latest report on MDLS, published on Monday 18 March, found that poverty was a significant barrier to MDLS. The main predictors of failing to meet MDLS are low socio-economic status, living in a deprived area, being a single-parent household, a household with more than two children, a household led by someone with disability and/or with non-white ethnicity.

Researchers found that digital safety is a key part of MDLS with the survey showing that 27% of households have parents missing the critical skills for understanding and managing digital risk.

The report set out several key policy priorities for governments at all levels to help families falling below the MDLS including Ofcom, industry and government working to find ways to make essential online public and health services free of data charges and working with schools to review curricula for digital skills.

Simeon Yates, Professor of Digital Culture from the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Liverpool said: “Our holistic research has shown that now, more than ever, it is crucial that digital inclusion is a cross-cutting government priority for the millions of families that don’t meet the MDLS.”

You can read and download the full report on MDLS here: Publications – Minimum Digital Living (

You can read a Guardian article, detailing the MDLS here: Nearly half of UK families excluded from modern digital society, study finds | Digital Britain | The Guardian