An ONS report published today has shown that internet use across all regions of the UK continues to increase, with marked rises among certain demographics.
According to the report, which is based on data from Q1 2018, 90% of UK adults are ‘recent internet users’ – meaning they were online at least once in the past three months. This is up from 89% in 2017. There is a steady negative correlation between age and frequency of internet use: 99% of 16-44 year olds used the internet in the past three months, compared to 97% of 45-54 year olds, 92% of 55-64 year olds, 80% of 65-74 year olds, and 44% of those aged 75 or over.
While those aged 75 or over were the only ones who were more likely to not have been online in the last three months, the number of those who have is more than twice what it was in 2011, when only 20% were classed as recent internet users.
While internet use has been increasing steadily over time, there are still 4.5 million adults in the UK who have never been online – equating to 8.4% of the adult population. Of these 4.5 million, 2.6 million were aged 75 or over.
In London, the percentage of adults who have never used the internet is the lowest in the UK, at 5.7%. On the other side of the scale, Northern Ireland has the highest rate of adults who have never been online, at 12.8%. However, Northern Ireland did the largest increase in recent internet use. This number should continue to increase sharply in coming years, particularly since chancellor Philip Hamond announced his plan to extend superfast broadband connections to the whole of the UK by 2025.
The results are, for the most part, unsurprising. Somewhat interestingly though, there is a difference between genders, with men using the internet more than women, on the whole, Among 16-44 year olds, this difference is minor – 91% of men had been online compared to 89% of women. But the gap increases as you we go up the age groups with the most marked difference (51% against 38%) seen among those aged 75 or over. As well as the raw rates themselves, this gender gap has been steadily closing since 2011.