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Statistical bulletin: Internet Access Quarterly Update, Q1 2013 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 15 May 2013 Download PDF

Key points

  • At Q1 2013, 43.5 million adults (86%) in the UK had used the Internet.
  • 7.1 million adults (14%) had never used the Internet.
  • Men (88%) were more likely to be Internet users than women (84%).
  • By region, London had the highest rate of Internet users (90%); 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, those who are less likely to have used the Internet include elderly and disabled adults. 

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. There is a particular interest and focus in the UK on those who have never used the Internet (see background note 4).

On 28 February 2013, ONS published the second part of the annual Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2012 statistical bulletin. The annual survey provides more information on Internet use than this quarterly update. However, while the estimates in the annual bulletin are more detailed, they 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.

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 Q1 2013, there were 43.5 million adults in the UK who had ever used the Internet, representing 86% of the adult population. The 7.1 million adults who had never used the Internet represented 14% of the adult population.

There was a decrease, since Q4 2012, of 326,000 adults (4%) who had never used the Internet and a decrease of 1 million (13%) compared with a year earlier (Q1 2012).

In the two years since the survey began (Q1 2011) the number of Internet users has increased by 2.4 million (6%), from 41.1 million.

Figure 1: Internet users and non-users by age group (years) and when last used, Q1 2013

Figure 1: Internet users and non-users by age group (years) and when last used, Q1 2013
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Percentages sum to less than 100 due to "don't know" responses.

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Age

Age is a key factor as to whether an individual is likely to have used the Internet.  Almost all adults aged 16 to 24 years (99%) had used the Internet (7.1 million people). In contrast, only 34% of adults aged 75 years and over had ever used the Internet, representing 1.6 million people.

There was a sizeable increase of 171,000 (12%) in the number of adults aged 75 years and over who had ever used the Internet in Q1 2013. However, due to a small sample size for this age group this estimate should be treated with a degree of caution.

The 3.1 million non-users aged 75 years and over made up 43% of the 7.1 million people who had never used the Internet at Q1 2013.


Sex

At Q1 2013, there were 21.9 million male and 21.7 million female Internet users. Men were more likely to have used the Internet than women, with 88% of men having ever used the Internet compared with 84% of women.

There were 1.3 million more women than men who had never used the Internet; 4.2 million women compared with 2.9 million men.

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

In the 12 months since Q1 2012, the proportion of people who have ever used the Internet has increased by 2 percentage points for both men and women.

Figure 3: Internet users by sex

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

Notes:

  1. Persons aged 16 years and over.

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Disability

Individuals with no disability are over three times more likely to have never used the Internet than individuals with a disability.

At Q1 2013, there were 3.7 million disabled adults, as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), who had never used the Internet. This represents 32% of those who were disabled and over half (53%) of the 7.1 million adults who had never used the Internet. Of those adults who reported no disability, 9% (3.3 million adults) had never used the Internet.

Figure 4: Internet non-users by disability status

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

Notes:

  1. Persons aged 16 and over.
  2. DDA disabled refers to those who self-assess that they have a disability in line with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) definition of disability.

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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 38%, a difference of 9 percentage points. This difference grows to 16 percentage points for males and females aged 75 years and over.

Figure 5, overlays the latest available UK population estimates with the Internet use data from the Labour Force Survey, by age groups of five years. This original presentation of the data clearly shows that the number of adults in each age group who have never used the Internet increases with age. The pyramid also shows how adults who have never used the Internet are more likely to be female.

Figure 5: Internet usage, by age and sex

Figure 5: Internet usage, by age and sex

Notes:

  1. Source: ONS, 2011 Mid-year population estimates and Labour Force Survey.

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Regional distribution

London was the region with the highest rate of Internet use with 90% 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, Q1 2013

Figure 6: Internet users by region, Q1 2013
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Persons aged 16 and over.

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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).

While there is sampling variability around these estimates, the lower geographical area with the highest rate of Internet use at Q1 2013 was Brighton & Hove at 95%.

A mapping tool is available for viewing the Q1 2013 results, by region and the UK as a whole. The tool can be used to illustrate how, in each region, the number of people who have ever used the Internet has changed from Q1 2012, 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, 5% (284,000) had never used the Internet. Internet use has almost reached full coverage for those earning in excess of £500 a week, with Internet use at 98% or above for all adults with weekly pay rates above this level.

Internet use has, however, increased over time for those individuals earning less than £200 per week. For example at Q2 2011, approximately 9% (511,000) had never used the Internet, this compares with 5% (284,000) at Q1 2013.

Recent Internet users

At Q1 2013, 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 the most likely to have last used the Internet more than 3 months ago. While 15% 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 7: When adults last used the Internet by age group, Q1 2013

Figure 7: When adults last used the Internet by age group, Q1 2013
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Background notes

  1. Key issues specific to this bulletin

    This is the latest quarterly release about Internet use by adults aged 16 or over. The results in this release are in respect of Q1 2013 (January to March 2013). 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 has 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.

    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, and who are therefore unable to access 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 part 2 bulletin, which was published on 28 February 2013.

    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 was compiled from approximately 3,000 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 Q1 2013 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.

    Table 1: Internet non-users: 95% confidence intervals, Q1 2013

      Never used the Internet
      Lower limit Survey estimate Upper limit
           
    All (thousands)             7,078                  7,099              7,119
    All (%)               13.7                    14.0                14.3
           
    Age group (years; thousands)    
    16-24                 40                       40                   40
    25-34                 88                       89                   89
    35-44                224                     225                 226
    45-54                637                     641                 644
    55-64             1,066                  1,074              1,082
    65-74             1,927                  1,948              1,968
    75+             3,024                  3,082              3,141
    Age group (years; %)      
    16-24                0.4                      0.6                  0.7
    25-34                0.8                      1.0                  1.2
    35-44                2.4                      2.7                  3.0
    45-54                6.7                      7.2                  7.7
    55-64               14.3                    15.0                15.7
    65-74               32.3                    33.4                34.5
    75+               63.6                    65.5                67.4
           
    Sex (thousands)      
    Male             2,879                  2,890              2,901
    Female             4,190                  4,209              4,227
    Sex (%)      
    Male                    11.3                           11.6                      12.0
    Female                    15.8                           16.2                16.7
           

    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 of Internet non-users in the North East is 15% to 18%. The confidence interval range for Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees, which is part of the North East, is 14% to 25%. This 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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