Centre on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE)
How's Life in the Digital Age?
Opportunities and Risks of the Digital Transformation for People's Well-being
This report documents how the ongoing digital transformation is affecting people’s
lives across the 11 key dimensions that make up the How’s Life? Well-being Framework
(Income and wealth, Jobs and earnings, Housing, Health status, Education and skills,
Work-life balance, Civic engagement and governance, Social connections, Environmental
quality, Personal security, and Subjective well-being). A summary of existing studies
highlights 39 key impacts of the digital transformation on people’s well-being. The
review shows that these impacts can be positive as digital technologies expand the
boundaries of information availability and enhance human productivity, but can also
imply risks for people’s well-being, ranging from cyber-bullying to the emergence
of disinformation or cyber-hacking. In sum, making digitalisation work for people’s
well-being would require building equal digital opportunities, widespread digital
literacy and strong digital security. Continued research and efforts in improving
statistical frameworks will be needed to expand our knowledge on the many topics covered
in this report.
A digital divide remains, as some people are more capable than others of leveraging the digital transformation for a better life
While more and more people in OECD countries have access to digital technologies, a digital divide in the use of digital technologies persists. Inequalities along age, gender, and socio-economic lines in the use of digital technologies mean that certain groups are better able at using digital technologies for higher well-being outcomes in many dimensions, such as jobs and income, health, work-life balance and social connections. In additions, the risks of the digital transformation may also fall more heavily on people with lower levels of education and skills. Therefore, while the digital transformation offers opportunities for people to attain higher levels of well-being, it presents an overarching risk of increasing inequalities in well-being outcomes.
To benefit from digital technologies you need the right skills
Beyond pure digital skills, emotional and social skills associated with safely navigating the online world are necessary to fully benefit from digital technologies. This “digital literacy” allows people to harmoniously combine their digital and real lives, and avoid potential mental health problems associated with abuses of digital technologies. The extreme use of the Internet has been associated with a number of mental health risks, and the passive use of digital technologies has also been shown to have negative effects on subjective well-being outcomes.