UK: New survey finds a fifth of Brits do not use the internet

A new survey from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) has found that around 20% of British people are not using the internet. The survey was given to 2,000 people to answer who provided researchers with many insights. Some of the key findings included that more non-users earned below the median income of £28,400 per year, and a massive 40% of those on less than £12,500 per year were not connected, although this is down from 71% in 2005.

Aside from income, two other factors were big indicators about whether someone would be online: level of education and age. With regards to age, OII’s survey, over the years, has shown a consistent trend of net connectivity starting a rapid decline after the age of 50 while almost all young people are connected. As years have gone by and more people become familiar with the internet, the total percentage of those over 65, and still connected to the internet, is higher than it was several years ago but that decline keeps a similar shape curve.

The other big indicator of whether someone has an internet connection depends on what academic qualifications they’ve got. Between 2013 and 2019, those with higher education qualifications remained the most likely to be online, with 95% reporting to being online in 2013, and 95% being online in 2019. Those with further education qualifications came in at 92% for connectivity in both 2013 and 2019. The biggest drop was seen by those with basic qualifications; 84% were online in 2013 but only 70% were in 2019. Those with no qualifications were least likely to be online, but more people in that group are coming online compared to the start of the decade. In 2011, just 31% of this group were online, this rose to 40% in 2013, but in 2019, dipped back to 36%.

The research found that those disconnected from the net were much more cynical with just 29% of them believing that “technology makes things better”, compared to 79% of internet users. Commenting on this phenomena, Dr. Grant Blank, Survey Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, and author of the survey, said:

“There is a widening perception gap between internet users and non-users, with non-users resolutely avoiding the internet. Often these non-users are from low income groups, where being online could potentially improve their quality of life.

“There’s an interesting paradox here with internet users being less likely to take action to protect their privacy while non-users tend to be put off by privacy concerns. These concerns could perpetuate the digital divide, with many people missing out on the benefits of the internet, such as access to health information, employment opportunities and reduced prices online.”

The report was sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), BT and Google. Minister for Digital, Matt Warman MP, said that the government was committed to helping more people get online as evidenced with the £400,000 Digital Inclusion Fund, which assists older and disabled people to get online and acquire new digital skills. BT highlighted that connecting people will require motivating “people who lack confidence to get online”.

Source: Oxford Internet Institute via BBC News

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