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Statistical bulletin: Internet Access Quarterly Update, 2012 Q2

Released: 15 August 2012 Download PDF

Key points

  • At 2012 Q2, 7.82 million adults (16 per cent) had never used the Internet. This is 4 per cent lower than 2012 Q1 and 10 per cent lower than 2011 Q2.
  • There were 42.52 million adults (84 per cent) who had ever used the Internet at 2012 Q2.
  • Men (87 per cent) were more likely to be Internet users than women (82 per cent).
  • By region, the South East and London had the highest rate of Internet users (88 per cent); Northern Ireland the lowest (77 per cent).

Overview

This is the latest quarterly release about Internet use by adults aged 16 years and over. Internet use is linked to various socio-economic and demographic characteristics, such as age; sex; disability; geographical location and weekly earnings. For example, adults who are less likely to have used the Internet include the elderly and disabled.

The estimates in this release are derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). These estimates are experimental. ONS developed these statistics to meet the needs of users, most notably ' Raceonline 2012'. A key user is now Go On UK, a new organisation that has been set up to continue the work of Raceonline 2012 , but still with the main objective of encouraging more people to start using the Internet in the UK. There is a particular interest and focus on those who have never used the Internet.

On 31 August 2011, ONS published the annual Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2011 statistical bulletin. The estimates in the annual bulletin are more detailed, but are derived from the Opinions and Lifestyles Survey, which has a smaller sample size than the LFS. Therefore comparisons made between this quarterly release and the annual publication should be made with caution. Although the annual survey provides more information on Internet use than this quarterly update, the estimates of levels from the quarterly survey on Internet use and non-use, due to the larger sample size of the LFS, should be considered to be more accurate.

On 24 August 2012, ONS will publish a partial release of the annual Internet Access - Households and Individuals 2012 statistical bulletin. This bulletin will not contain the estimates of adults' use of the Internet, that have been included in this publication in previous years. These estimates have been delayed until February 2013 due to a data collection problem.

User engagement

We are constantly aiming to improve this release and its associated commentary. We would welcome any feedback you might have; please contact us via email: esociety@ons.gsi.gov.uk or telephone David Matthews on +44 (0)1633 456756.

Users and non-users

At 2012 Q2, there were 42.52 million adults in the UK who had ever used the Internet, representing 84 per cent of the adult population. The 7.82 million adults who had never used the Internet represented 16 per cent of the adult population.

There was a decrease, since 2012 Q1, of 298,000 adults (4 per cent) who had never used the Internet and a decrease of 904,000 (10 per cent) compared with a year earlier (2011 Q2).

Age (Tables 1A and 1B)

Age has a sizeable effect on an individual's likelihood to engage with the Internet. Almost all adults aged 16 to 24 years (99 per cent) had ever used the Internet (7.17 million people). In contrast, only 29 per cent of adults aged 75 years and over had ever used the Internet, representing 1.33 million people.

The 3.3 million non-users aged 75 years and over made up 42 per cent of the 7.82 million people who had never used the Internet at 2012 Q2.

Figure 1: Internet users and non-users by age group (years), 2012 Q2

Figure 1: Internet users and non-users by age group (years), 2012 Q2

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Sex (Tables 1A and 1B)

At 2012 Q2, there were 21.36 million male and 21.16 million female Internet users. Men were more likely to have used the Internet than women, with 87 per cent of men having ever used the Internet compared to 82 per cent of women.

At 2012 Q2, there were 1.34 million more women than men who had never used the Internet; 4.58 million women compared with 3.24 million men.

These trends have been similar since the first quarterly survey was undertaken at 2011 Q1.

Figure 2: Internet users by sex

Figure 2: Internet users by sex

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Disability (Tables 1A and 1B)

At 2012 Q2, there were 3.91 million disabled adults, as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), who had never used the Internet. This represents 34 per cent of those who were disabled and just under half of the 7.82 million adults who had never used the Internet. Of those adults who reported no disability, 10 per cent (3.77 million adults) had never used the Internet. This indicates that individuals with a disability are approximately three times more likely never to have used the Internet than individuals with no disability.

Figure 3: Internet non-users by disability status

Figure 3: Internet non-users by disability status

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Age and sex (Tables 2A and 2B)

Tables 2A and 2B present estimates of Internet users and non-users by age group and sex. The tables show that whereas Internet non-use was relatively similar for males and females aged 16 to 64 years, Internet non-use differed for adults aged 65 years and over. For example, whereas 32 per cent of males aged 65 to 74 years had never used the Internet, the corresponding total for females was 42 per cent, a difference of 10 percentage points. This difference grows to 13 percentage points for males and females aged 75 years and over.

Figure 4: Internet users by age group (years) and sex, 2012 Q2

Figure 4: Internet users by age group (years) and sex 2012 Q2

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Regional distribution (Tables 3A to 4B)

The South East and London were the regions with the highest rate of Internet use with 88 per cent of adults reporting that they had used the Internet. Northern Ireland had the lowest proportion of Internet users, at 77 per cent. The estimate for Northern Ireland is markedly lower than all other regions, but is an increase on the estimate of Internet use in Northern Ireland produced at 2011 Q2, of 73 per cent. All regions have shown an increase in Internet use over this period (2011 Q2 to 2012 Q2).

Figure 5: Internet users by region

Figure 5: Internet users by region

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This quarter sees the introduction of new estimates in tables 4A and 4B, presented at a lower regional level of geography than in previous publications. These data have been included due to user interest. They are based on smaller sample sizes than the higher level regional estimates in tables 3A and 3B and are therefore subject to a greater degree of sampling variability, so should be treated with caution (see background note 6).

A mapping tool is available for viewing the 2012 Q2 results, by region and the UK as a whole. The mapping tool can be used to illustrate how, in each region, the number of people using the Internet has changed from 2011 Q2, as well as enabling comparison with other regions.

Earnings (Tables 5A and 5B)

Tables 5A and 5B present a breakdown of Internet users and non-users by gross weekly pay. Of those adults in employment whose gross weekly pay was less than £200 per week, 7 per cent (355,000) had never used the Internet. Internet use has almost reached full coverage for those earning in excess of £500 a week, with Internet use around 98 to 99 per cent for all adults with weekly pay rates above this level.

Figure 6: Internet users and non-users by gross weekly pay, 2012 Q2

Figure 6: Internet users and non-users by gross weekly pay, 2012 Q2

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Recent Internet users (Tables 6A and 6B)

To meet emerging user interest, for the first time as part of this publication, a table has been included showing whether those who have ever used the Internet did so in the three months prior to interview. Of those adults who had ever used the Internet, 97 per cent had used it within the three months prior to interview and 3 per cent had used it more than three months ago.

Adults aged 75 years and over were less likely than the younger age groups to have last used the Internet within the three months prior to interview. Whereas 99 per cent of Internet users aged 16 to 24 years had used the Internet in the three months prior to interview, only 83 per cent of Internet users aged 75 years and over had done so.

Figure 7: When adults last used the Internet by age group, 2012 Q2

Figure 7: When adults last used the Internet by age group, 2012 Q2

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Background notes

  1. Key issues specific to this bulletin 

    This is the latest in a series of quarterly releases about Internet use by adults aged 16 or over. The results in this release are in respect of 2012 Q1 (April to June 2012). ONS began publishing quarterly data on Internet users and non-users to enable more timely information on Internet use to be made available. The source of the information is the Labour Force Survey (LFS). A quality report for the LFS (52.1 Kb Pdf) is available on the ONS website. 

    The new question added to the Labour Force Survey in 2011 Q1 was 'when did you last use the Internet?' This is the same question that has been used in the Opinions Survey to collect data for the annual publication 'Internet Access – Households and Individuals'.

    The term ‘disabled’ is used to refer to those who self-assess that they have a disability in line with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) definition of disability. Respondents who did not answer whether they had a disability have been included in the category 'No disability' in Tables 1A, 1B, 6A and 6B.

    ‘Don’t know’ responses are not separately identified in this bulletin. Therefore, percentage breakdowns sum to less than 100 per cent, reflecting the small number of ‘don’t know’ responses to the Internet use question.

    This quarterly release was previously published as an article for the periods 2011 Q1 to Q4. From 2012 Q1 onwards, this release has been published as a statistical bulletin. 

  2. Experimental Statistics 

    The estimates in this bulletin are experimental statistics. When new questions are added to the LFS, standard practice is for the question to be asked for four quarters before results are published. However, in order to satisfy user needs these quarterly estimates were released earlier than they would normally have been. 

    The UK Statistics Authority has reviewed this publication in their report "Assessment of compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics: Statistics on Internet Access". This review recommended that the Internet Access Quarterly Update be designated as National Statistics, subject to ONS carrying out certain requirements. ONS is working to meet the requirements set out in the assessment report. Therefore, it is hoped that the Internet Access Quarterly Update 2012 Q3 bulletin, due to be published in November 2012, will be published as National Statistics.

  3. Revisions 

    There are no revisions to estimates previously published.

  4. Users and uses of the data

    The organisation Race Online 2012 was established to help more people get online for the first time by 2012. Race Online 2012's need for more frequent statistics on people who had never used the Internet, could not be met by the annual Internet Access Survey. Therefore, ONS started publishing an experimental quarterly update on Internet users and non-users. This quarterly release has been expressly designed to fill an information gap and meet the needs of this key customer.

    Race Online 2012 has recently been replaced by a new partnership organisation, Go ON UK. Its aim is to get the final 7.8 million adults online.

    Within the UK there is wide interest in these quarterly estimates from researchers, public bodies, the media, charities and academics. In the last 12 months there has been particular interest in statistics about adults who don’t use the Internet, which have been used to inform debate about social and digital exclusion. As drawn attention to by Consumer Focus, the statutory consumer champion for England, Wales, Scotland and (for postal consumers) Northern Ireland and a known user of these quarterly estimates, "a growing gap exists between those who are online and those who are not, as the Internet becomes more of an essential utility for consumers. The best deals are often online only and people could save hundreds of pounds each year by accessing these online discounts".

    As well as user interest in adults who have ever or never used the Internet, there is also interest in adults who have used the Internet, but not recently. Therefore this report, for the first time, includes new estimates of Internet users, broken down into those who used the Internet in the three months prior to interview, and those who used it more than three months ago. 

    Do you make use of our quarterly estimates of Internet Access? If yes, we would like to hear from you (esociety@ons.gsi.gov.uk) and understand how you make use of these quarterly statistics. This will enable us, in the future, to better meet your needs as a user.

  5. Coherence

    The results published in this quarterly bulletin focus on Internet users and non-users. These results are not directly comparable with the estimates contained in the 2011 annual Internet Access bulletin, which was published on 31 August 2011. The annual bulletin contains a wide range of information about Internet access and use, but from a smaller sample than the LFS. The 2011 annual bulletin was compiled from approximately 3,300 interviews conducted for the National Statistics Opinions survey, whereas approximately 43,000 households respond each quarter to the LFS. The larger sample size in the LFS allows for more detailed and accurate socio-demographic analysis than is possible with the Opinions dataset. 

    On 24 August 2012 ONS will publish a partial release of the annual 2012 Internet Access Households and Individuals survey results. This release will not contain the estimates of adults’ use of the Internet that have been included in previous years. These estimates have been delayed until February 2013 due to a data collection problem.

    It is also important to note that the estimates in this bulletin are on a UK basis whereas the Internet Access Households and Individuals results relate to Great Britain only. 

  6. Sampling variability

    The 2012 Q2 confidence intervals table shows estimated 95 per cent confidence intervals for estimates relating to Internet users and non-users, by age and sex. The estimates come from survey data and so have a degree of statistical error associated with them. Confidence intervals are an indication of the reliability of the estimate; the smaller the interval, the more reliable the estimate is likely to be. With regards to ’95 per cent confidence intervals’, we mean that if we repeated our survey 100 times, 95 per cent of the time (95 times out of 100), the true population value would fall within the range of these confidence intervals.

    Internet non-users: 95 per cent confidence intervals, 2012 Q2

      Never used the Internet
    Lower limit Survey estimate Upper limit
    All (thousands)             7,800                  7,823              7,846
    All (per cent)               15.2                    15.5                15.8
           
    Age group (years; thousands)    
    16-24                 51                       51                   51
    25-34                115                     115                 115
    35-44                283                     284                 285
    45-54                717                     721                 725
    55-64             1,223                  1,232              1,241
    65-74             2,099                  2,122              2,145
    75+             3,241                  3,299              3,357
    Age group (per cent)      
    16-24                0.5                      0.7                  0.9
    25-34                1.1                      1.4                  1.6
    35-44                3.0                      3.4                  3.7
    45-54                7.7                      8.2                  8.7
    55-64               16.4                    17.1                17.9
    65-74               36.3                    37.4                38.5
    75+               69.4                    71.2                72.9
           
    Sex (thousands)      
    Male             3,227                  3,240              3,253
    Female             4,563                  4,583              4,603
    Sex (per cent)      
    Male               12.7                    13.1                13.5
    Female               17.3                    17.8                18.2

    Download table

    The larger the sample that is used for a particular estimate, the narrower the confidence interval will be. For example, the higher level regional estimates in tables 3A and 3B are based on larger samples than the lower level regional estimates in tables 4A and 4B. Therefore, the estimates in tables 4A and 4B are liable to greater sample variation and are therefore of a lower quality than those in tables 3A and 3B.

  7. Rounding 

    In all tables totals may not equal the sum of independently rounded components.

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  10. Special events

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    Publication policy

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Statistical contacts

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David Matthews +44 (0)1633 456756 Office for National Statistics esociety@ons.gsi.gov.uk
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