UK internet use doubles in a decade


Sophie Curtis

May 11, 2015

People in the UK spent an average of 20 hours and 30 minutes online each week in 2014, over double the amount in 2005

People in the UK are spending twice as much time online as they were 10 years ago, fuelled by increasing use of tablets and smartphones, according to new research by the communications watchdog, Ofcom.

Internet users aged 16 and over spent an average of 20 hours and 30 minutes online each week in 2014, up from 9 hours and 54 minutes in 2005.

Ofcom’s Media Use and Attitudes 2015 report revealed that the biggest increase in internet use was among 16-24 year olds, almost tripling from 10 hours and 24 minutes each week in 2005 to 27 hours and 36 minutes by the end of 2014.

The growth has been fuelled by an increase in the take-up of tablets and smartphones, Ofcom said. Smartphone use has more than doubled in the last five years, from 30 per cent of adults in 2010 to 66 per cent in 2014, and while just 5 per cent of adults reported using a tablet to go online in 2010, this increased to 39 per cent in 2014.

As a result, the amount of time people are online while ‘out and about’ – away from home, work or their place of study – has increased five-fold over the past ten years, from 30 minutes in 2005 to 2 hours and 18 minutes in 2014.

In particular, activities such as watching video clips online, playing games, instant messaging and social media have driven growth in mobile internet use in the UK.

The proportion of people watching video clips online has almost doubled over the past eight years, from 21 per cent to 39 per cent of internet users, and the mobile phone is now the primary device used for gaming, with over a quarter of mobile users playing games at least once a week.

Instant messaging use has also leapt from 38 per cent of mobile phone users in 2013 to 42 per cent in 2014, driven by services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and BBM, while the use of social media has tripled since 2007, due to a dramatic surge in older people using social media.

Meanwhile, fears about privacy on the internet have declined over the past 10 years, according to Ofcom, with over two thirds of internet users claiming they are happy to provide personal information online.

However, 21 per cent of people said they would never provide their credit or debit card details, and 24 per cent would never provide their mobile number.

The report comes after the European Commission announced detailed plans to create a ‘digital single market’, with the aim of building a unified regulatory framework for the internet across the continent and redressing the balance that has seen US tech giants dominate the online world.

Among other reforms, the Commission hopes to break down barriers to accessing on-demand content across borders, making services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Sky Go available to everyone, regardless of which EU country they’re in.

Expensive data roaming charges incurred abroad could also be abolished, and parcel deliveries could be made cheaper, letting internet users browse foreign online stores without paying significantly more to have goods shipped from abroad.

The European Commission is hoping that creating a single digital market will help European companies grow and take on the likes of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, and generate up to €250 billion in additional growth and hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the next five years.

“Working across 28 different countries has made it difficult for European online companies to grow and creating a Digital Single Market will have a direct impact on employment and economic growth for the EU,” said Mark Skilton, Professor in the Information Systems & Management Group at Warwick Business School.

However, the proposed reforms could also increase economic tensions between Europe and the US over internet companies, as well as worrying film and TV companies that currently stagger releases and alter their pricing depending on viewer appetites in different European countries.

This article was written by Sophie Curtis from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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