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ONS 2017 Update – 4.8 Million UK Adults Have Never Used the Internet

Monday, May 22nd, 2017 (9:56 am) - Score 1,297

The Office for National Statistics has published their latest annual 2017 Internet Access report, which reveals that 9% (4.8 million) of UK adults have never used the Internet and that’s down from 10.2% (5.3 million) last year. Sadly issues of age and disability remain key barriers.

At present almost all “adults” aged 16 to 34 years are recent internet users (99%), which falls slightly to 97% for those aged 35-54 and then 90% for those aged 55-64, 78% for people aged 65-74 and finally only 41% of adults aged 75+ were considered recent internet users (a big improvement from 2011 when only 19.9% of those aged 75+ were recent internet users).

Out of the 4.8 million adults who had never used the internet in 2017, just over half (2.6 million) were aged 75+. However not all of the new internet users from that 75+ age bracket continue to use it after they’ve given the service a try (they have the highest rate of lapsed internet use at 7%, up from 5% in 2016).

Internet use also fluctuates depending upon which region of the United Kingdom you hail from. As you’d expect the more urban regions come top and thus London remains the region with the highest proportion of recent internet users (93%), while Northern Ireland had the lowest proportion (84%); although N.Ireland also had the largest increase in recent use since 2011, reflecting a rise of 15%.

internet use by uk region q1 2017 (ons)

Gender also continues play a small role, with 90% of Men and 88% of Women being regarded as recent internet users (up from 89% and 86% in 2016) and that compares with 82% for men and 77% for women in 2011.

Sadly 22% of disabled adults have never used the internet, although this is down from 25% last year and 27.4% in 2015. Some extreme disabilities can of course make internet use either very difficult or nearly impossible.

As we always say, not everybody wants to use the internet and nobody should force the technology on to people who don’t want or need it, but equally support should always exist for those who wish to give it a try. Admittedly this philosophy will become increasing strained as the Government continues to extend its digital-by-default strategy.

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7 Responses
  1. Avatar Kits says:

    The problem is many of those who haven’t used the internet are people who have little income. I know a few that only use the internet if viisiting others. The one reason for this is money they have little money and ned to pay rent, rates, gas electricity plus clothing and food from this. Internet to them is a luxery they will work without as food and a roof is more important. Again this is the elderly I am talking about as those younger ones on benefits seem to be able to have internet the ones I know of have anyway but all do have children.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      Strange that all the people you know in that situation are elderly given working age poverty rates are higher than retirement age poverty rates in the UK.

      I guess it’s about the circles people associate in.

    2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      I’ve spotted no such thing. Almost the reverse. However, what I do see all the time is a lot of older people, but which I mean those in their late 70s onward who either have no wish to use the Internet or, more often, find it confusing an baffling. None of this age-related stuff appears to be related to income by the issues of adapting to a whole new way of thinking and working. Even those in their 80s that I do know who access the Internet are very hesitant and, understandably, cautious, especially with respect to issues like banking. In my mother’s case (aged 85) she can read emails and look at Facebook updated on her tablet, but not much more. For things like searching out good deals on insurance, gas and electricity, she relies on relatives.

      Money doesn’t come into play.

  2. Avatar tonyp says:

    With age comes disability both physical and mental. An increased ageing population probably means those silver surfers can no longer handle increasingly complex websites. Plus there is a sizeable number of people who simply don’t see the need to use the ‘net – it isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a matter of life or death.

    It doesn’t help that there are so many crims out there trying to relieve elderly people of their savings, reporting of major hacking incidents and so on. I’m sure this leads to a certain degree of paranoia and thus keeping people offline.

    In time the number of elderly non-users will reduce as those brought up with personal computers reach their dotage. Disability and dementia will prevent a 100% figure but, like telephone usage taken for granted, familiarity with the technology will help a lot.

  3. Avatar Kits says:

    @CarlT when you give free time to help those who are at a disadvantage then you are helping in this area. I do not hide in an ivory tower saying as long as I am ok to hell with the rest.
    Try working with the disadvantaged those who need support restpite or even just working as a volunter for a few weeks and see who you meet.

  4. Avatar Packet Switched says:

    Due to bad memory I cannot reliably recall PIN numbers, passwords, logins and access codes with any practicable usability
    I am effectively locked out of anything via the internet with any appreciable security implications, certainly payments.
    (The fine print is explicit: if you write a PIN number down considerable protections are void.)

    The inability is due to the conformation of the brain and is real though not called a “hidden disability” for nothing.
    The incidence is of the order of 5% of the population – some 3 million people – and the legal provisions that nothing should
    be more difficlult let alone impossible under the Disability Discrimination Act would be applicable.

    Ironically I was a first mover and managed to to get the internet to work before any browser had become available:
    2k ram, a modem of primeval speed and keying in with exact accuracy Unix file codes which, after a tilde,
    were usually complete garble nor were they necessarily short. However since I first got a browser – Mosaic –
    I have made very extensive use indeed of the internet for directories, references, and downloading information.

    I have only recently, after what must be about a couple of dozen years, come to make any use of email.

    Being in this sort of situation is impoverishing, one can valuably look things up on the internet but not just go ahead and order from Amazon, one has to do is to in person – whether over the counter or by telephone – or by post – printing a form out and sending it with or without a cheque. Both work soundly if not so conveniently and often more expensively The internet really does need to be readily available, reliable and cheap. Speed is almost irrelevant – I have 12 Mb and found visiting that with what was 3 or 4 I seemed to be able to do everything just as I normally would including downloading tables and small but fully detailed maps with full contour lines etc.
    (Note: the reliability of my home 12 Mb line is preternatural. Apparently 100% reliable, it has crept up from just under 12mb to just over and running speed tests this simply barely varies. This despite it being nothing special, though installed as an extra line with broadband when ever that first became generally available.)

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      Perhaps you should investigate something like LastPass, a password repository.

      As standard (and free) you would still need to remember a master password. Premium variants will hook into fingerprint readers instead of that master.

      If you think that would leave you at risk still, then there’s the possibility of using multifactor authentication, by adding a hardware token too – such as ones from Yubico or RSA.

      That’d be way beyond the ability of a lot of people, but perhaps OK for someone whose internet experience pre-dates even mosaic.

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