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Statistical bulletin: Internet Access Quarterly Update, Q4 2012 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 20 February 2013 Download PDF

Key points

  • At Q4 2012, 7.42 million adults (15%) had never used the Internet. This is 3% lower than Q3 2012 and 9% lower than Q4 2011.
  • There were 43.07 million adults (85%) who had ever used the Internet at Q4 2012.
  • Men (87%) were more likely to be Internet users than women (83%).
  • By region, London had the highest rate of Internet users (89%); Northern Ireland the lowest (79%).

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 the disabled. 

The estimates in this release are derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and are not seasonally adjusted. ONS developed these statistics to meet the needs of users, most notably 'Raceonline 2012'. A key stakeholder is now ‘Go On UK’, a new organisation that has been set up to continue the work of Raceonline 2012, still with the main objective of encouraging more people to start using the Internet. There is a particular interest and focus in the UK on those who have never used the Internet.

On 24 August 2012, ONS published a partial release of the annual Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2012 statistical bulletin. This bulletin did not contain the estimates of adults' use of the Internet that have been included in this publication in previous years. These estimates were delayed due to a data collection problem and will be published on 28 February 2013 in an extra publication, Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2012 part 2.

The estimates in the Internet Access – Households and Individuals statistical 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. The annual survey provides more information on Internet use than this quarterly update. However, due to the larger sample size of the LFS, the estimates of levels from the quarterly survey on Internet use and non-use are considered to be more accurate.

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 Q4 2012, there were 43.07 million adults in the UK who had ever used the Internet, representing 85% of the adult population. The 7.42 million adults who had never used the Internet represented 15% of the adult population.

There was a decrease, since Q3 2012, of 206,000 adults (3%) who had never used the Internet and a decrease of 779,000 (9%) compared with a year earlier (Q4 2011).

Figure 1: Internet users and non-users by age group (years) and when last used, 2012 Q4

Figure 1: Internet users and non-users by age group (years) and when last used, 2012 Q4
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Age

Age has a sizeable effect on an individual's likelihood to engage with the Internet. Almost all adults aged 16 to 24 years (99%) had ever used the Internet (7.12 million people). In contrast, only 31% of adults aged 75 years and over had ever used the Internet, representing 1.44 million people.

The 3.23 million non-users aged 75 years and over made up 44% of the 7.42 million people who had never used the Internet at Q4 2012.

Figure 2: Internet users and non users by age group (years), 2012 Q4

Figure 2: Internet users and non users by age group (years), 2012 Q4
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Sex

At Q4 2012, there were 21.61 million male and 21.45 million female Internet users. Men were more likely to have used the Internet than women, with 87% of men having ever used the Internet compared to 83% of women.

At Q4 2012, there were 1.29 million more women than men who had never used the Internet; 4.36 million women compared with 3.07 million men.

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

Figure 3: Internet users by sex

Figure 3: Internet users by sex
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Disability

At Q4 2012, there were 3.80 million disabled adults, as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), who had never used the Internet. This represents 33% of those who were disabled and just over half of the 7.42 million adults who had never used the Internet. Of those adults who reported no disability, 9% (3.50 million adults) had never used the Internet. This indicates that individuals with a disability are just over three times more likely never to have used the Internet than individuals with no disability.

Figure 4: Internet non-users by disability status

Figure 4: Internet non-users by disability status
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Age and Sex

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 29% of males aged 65 to 74 years had never used the Internet, the corresponding total for females was 39%, a difference of 10 percentage points. This difference grows to 14 percentage points for males and females aged 75 years and over.

Figure 5: Internet users by age group (years) and sex, 2012 Q4

Figure 5: Internet users by age group (years) and sex, 2012 Q4
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Regional distribution

London was the region with the highest rate of Internet use with 89% of adults reporting that they had used the Internet. Northern Ireland had the lowest proportion of Internet users, at 79%.

Figure 6: Internet users by region

Figure 6: Internet users by region
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Tables 4A and 4B are presented at a lower regional level of geography than tables 3A and 3B and 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).

The lower geograpical area with the highest rate of Internet use at Q4 2012, was Berkshire, at 92%.

A mapping tool is available for viewing the Q4 2012 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 who have ever used the Internet has changed from Q4 2011, as well as enabling comparison with other regions.

Earnings

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, 6% (300,000) had never used the Internet. Internet use has almost reached full coverage for those earning in excess of £500 a week, with Internet use above 98% for all adults with weekly pay rates above this level.

Figure 7: Internet users and non-users by gross weekly pay, 2012 Q4

Figure 7: Internet users and non-users by gross weekly pay, 2012 Q4
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Recent Internet users

At Q4 2012, 97% of those adults who had ever used the Internet had used it within the three months prior to interview and 3% had used it more than three months ago. Adults aged over 75 years were more likely to have last used the Internet more than 3 months ago. While 16% of Internet users aged over 75 years last used the Internet more than 3 months ago, in contrast, just 1% of Internet users aged 16 to 24 years had last used it more than three months ago.

Figure 8: When adults last used the Internet by age group, 2012 Q4

Figure 8: When adults last used the Internet by age group, 2012 Q4
Source: Office for National Statistics

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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 Q4 2012 (October to December 2012). ONS began publishing quarterly data on Internet users and non-users at Q1 2011, 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 (120.8 Kb Pdf) is available on the ONS website.

    The new question added to the Labour Force Survey in Q1 2011 was 'when did you last use the Internet?' This is the same question that has been used in the Opinions and Lifestyles 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%, 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 Q1 to Q4 2011. From Q1 2012 onwards, this release has been published as a statistical bulletin.

  2. National statistics

    Until Q2 2012, this release was published with experimental statistics status.

    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 statistics published in the Internet Access Quarterly Update be designated as National Statistics, subject to ONS carrying out certain requirements. ONS has carried out the necessary work to comply with the requirements set out in this report and as a result of this, the UK Statistics Authority has confirmed that from Q3 2012, this release had National Statistics status.

  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 needed more frequent statistics on people who had never used the Internet, but this 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 was expressly designed to fill this information gap.

    In 2012, Race Online 2012 was replaced by a new partnership organisation, Go ON UK. Its aim is to get the final 7.4 million adults online.

    Within the UK there is wide interest in these quarterly estimates from researchers, public bodies, the media, charities and academics. The UK government is moving towards a policy of ‘digital by default’ in the provision of a range of public services. This is where the Internet becomes the preferred method for the delivery of services. The statistics in this release make it possible to monitor the number of people who are not online, which may be relevant for how people are able to use public services that are delivered online. These statistics may also be used to help inform the wider debate about digital and social exclusion.

    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, in Q2 2012 new estimates of ‘lapsed Internet users’ were introduced, showing estimates of adults who had last used the Internet 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 annual Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2012 bulletin, which was published on 24 August 2012. This was a partial release of the 2012 Internet Access survey results, as it did not contain the estimates of adults’ use of the Internet, that have been included in previous years. These estimates have been delayed until 28 February 2013, when they will be released in an extra publication, Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2012 part 2.

    The annual bulletin contains a wide range of information about Internet access and use, but from a smaller sample than the LFS.

    The 2012 annual bulletin published on 24 August 2012 was compiled from approximately 3,300 interviews conducted for the Opinions and Lifestyles 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 and Lifestyles dataset.

    It is also important to note that the estimates in this bulletin are on a UK basis whereas the Internet Access 2012 results relate to Great Britain only.

  6. Sampling variability

    The Q4 2012 confidence intervals tables show estimated 95% confidence intervals for estimates relating to Internet users and non-users, by age and sex. The estimates, included as part of this statistical bulletin, 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% confidence intervals’, we mean that if we repeated our survey 100 times, 95% 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% confidence intervals, 2012 Q4

      Never used the Internet
      Lower limit Survey estimate Upper limit
           
    All (thousands)             7,402                  7,425              7,447
    All (%)               14.4                    14.7                15.0
           
    Age group (years; thousands)  
    16-24                 53                       53                   53
    25-34                108                     108                 108
    35-44                241                     242                 242
    45-54                674                     677                 681
    55-64             1,109                  1,118              1,126
    65-74             1,972                  1,993              2,014
    75+             3,174                  3,234              3,294
    Age group (years; %)    
    16-24                0.5                      0.7                  0.9
    25-34                1.0                      1.3                  1.5
    35-44                2.6                      2.9                  3.2
    45-54                7.1                      7.7                  8.2
    55-64               14.8                    15.6                16.3
    65-74               33.4                    34.5                35.6
    75+               67.1                    68.9                70.8
           
    Sex (thousands)    
    Male             3,054                  3,066              3,078
    Female             4,339                  4,359              4,378
    Sex (%)      
    Male               12.0                    12.4                12.8
    Female               16.5                    16.9                17.3
           

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    The larger the sample that is used for a particular estimate, the narrower the confidence interval will be. The higher level regional estimates are based on larger sample sizes than the lower level regional estimates. For example, in table 4D the confidence interval range for the percentage on Internet non-users in the North East is 18% to 21%. The confidence interval range for Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees, which is part of the North East, is 19% to 30%. The interval is larger, due to the smaller sample size used for the estimate for Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees.

  7. Rounding

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

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Statistical contacts

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David Matthews +44 (0)1633 456756 Business Outputs and Development Division esociety@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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