NEWS4 June 2019

Internet use increases, along with concerns

News Trends UK

UK – The average UK adult spent 3 hours 15 minutes per day online last year – a rise of 11 minutes since 2017 – according to a joint study by Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Ofcom report_crop

The report on how people use the internet, Online Nation, found that the time people spend online has increased about 7% annually but the proportion of adults concerned about using the internet has risen since last year, from 59% to 78%.

And 61% of adults have had a potentially harmful online experience in the past year, with that rising to 79% among children aged 12- to 15-years-old.

Support for online regulation has increased. Most adults favour tighter rules for social media sites ( 70% in 2019, up from 52% in 2018 ); video-sharing sites ( 64% vs 46%); and instant-messaging services ( 61% vs 40%).

Yih-Choung Teh, group director of strategy and research at Ofcom, said: “As most of us spend more time than ever online, we’re increasingly worried about harmful content – and also more likely to come across it. For most people, those risks are still outweighed by the huge benefits of the internet. And while most internet users favour tighter rules in some areas, people also recognise the importance of protecting free speech – which is one of the internet’s great strengths.”

Most adults ( 59%) agree that the benefits of going online outweigh the risks, and 61% of children think that the internet makes their lives better.

In total, 44m people use the internet to send or receive emails and 29m send instant messages. Thirty million bank or pay bills via the internet with 27m shopping online.

The potential online harms most commonly encountered by adults were unsolicited emails ( 34% experienced in the past year), fake news ( 25%) and scams or fraud ( 22%).

For children, 39% experienced offensive language online; 28% had received unwelcome friend requests; 23% encountered cyber-bullying; and 20% had been trolled.

In terms of where that harm was experienced, social media was the worst culprit with Facebook cited by 28% of adults, compared with Instagram ( 16%) and Twitter ( 12%).