Perceptions of the risks and benefits of Internet access and use by people with intellectual disabilities

Journal article citation:
British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45(1), 2017, pp.21-31.

Background: Information and communication technologies, with the Internet at the forefront, have the potential to enhance the knowledge, service, employment, development and social interactional opportunities available to people with intellectual disabilities. Despite this, people with intellectual disabilities are not accessing the Internet to the same degree as people without intellectual disabilities. Issues of safety, risk and protection online for people with intellectual disabilities have yet to be adequately investigated, and these currently serve as reasons given for hindering people from gaining online access. Materials and Method: This survey aimed to gauge the views people without intellectual disabilities have of risks and benefits of using the Internet for themselves and for people with intellectual disabilities and to compare self-ratings of risk and benefits to ratings for people with intellectual disabilities. Results: The survey findings indicate that, with only a small number of exceptions, both the risks and benefits of being online were believed to be greater for people with intellectual disabilities compared with those without intellectual disabilities. Greater use of the Internet was associated with increased perception of benefits to being online for both people with intellectual disabilities and for participants. Conclusions: Perceptions of increased benefits suggest more needs to be performed to improve online access whilst a perception of increased risk may help to explain the reduced inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in the online world. (Publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
risk, learning disabilities, internet, online services, information technology, surveys;
Content type:
United Kingdom
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