The latest Focus on the Digital Age report from the Office for National Statistics reveals that, while internet use is well established and growing fast, the ‘digital divide’ remains a problem.
According to the report, one in twelve UK households (8%) have no access to the internet, digital TV, or mobile phones.
This ‘digital divide’ is linked to household income - nine out of ten of the richest 10% of households have internet access, while for the poorest 10% of households only a fifth have internet access.
Though retired people, or ‘silver surfers’ are increasingly using the internet, there is a divide between old and young. 55% of over 50s surveyed had not used a PC in the past three months, while for those aged 16-30, the figure was 13%.
While the proportion of business selling over the internet has risen, with 15% of non-financial businesses with ten or more employees selling online, compared with just 7% in 2002.
Other findings from the report were:
- 18% of UK adults sold goods over the internet in 2006, more than double the level in 2003–04.
- The proportion of households in the UK with digital TV grew from 19% in 1996–97 to 65% in 2005–06.
- 98% of companies with 1,000+ employees had a dedicated website in 2005, up from 95% in 2002.
- For companies with 10–49 employees, the proportion rose from 54% to 66%.
- 44% of UK households had a broadband connection in 2006, well above the EU average of 32%.
A report by Point Topic in October last year suggested that, among the proportion of the population without internet access, almost 75% didn’t feel that internet access was important to them.
Talking to Silicon.com, John Fisher of digital inclusion charity Citizens Online, says that a proportion of the population in being left behind by advances in technology. He quotes an interesting stat – that one third of the UK population (16m people) has never been online.