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ONS 2018 Study – 4.5 Million UK Adults Have Never Used the Internet

Thursday, May 31st, 2018 (11:44 am) - Score 935
office for national statistics UK

The Office for National Statistics has today published their latest annual 2018 Internet Access report, which reveals that 8.4% (4.5 million) of UK adults have never used the Internet and that’s down from 9% (4.8 million) last year. Sadly issues of age and disability continue to be the key barriers to adoption.

Overall 90% of adults in the United Kingdom were classed as “recent internet users” (up from 89% in 2017), which rises to 99% when only looking at “adults” aged 16-34 years and this drops to 44% for those aged 75+ (the latter is still a big improvement from 20% of those aged 75+ in 2011).

Meanwhile 20% of disabled adults had never used the internet in 2018, down from 22% in 2017. Some extreme disabilities can of course make internet use either very difficult or nearly impossible.

Out of the 4.5 million adults who had never used the internet in 2018, more than half (2.6 million) were aged 75+. Meanwhile not all of those aged 75+ who had used the internet will continue to make use of the service once they’ve given it a go (this is the age group with the highest proportion of lapsed internet users). Lapsed internet use by adults aged 75+ rose from 3.9% in 2011 to 7.3% in 2017, before falling to 5.7% in 2018.

In addition, recent internet use by retired adults has increased by almost 25 percentage points since 2011, to 64% in 2018. Similarly, recent internet use by adults who were classed “economically inactive” has increased by 18 percentage points over this period to 88%.

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 at 86% (up from 84% last year); although N.Ireland also had the largest increase in recent use since 2011, reflecting a rise of 17 percentage points.

internet_use_by_region_2018_ons

Elsewhere the proportion of men who had recently used the internet in 2018 was higher than women, at 91% and 89% respectively (compared with 82% and 77% respectively in 2011). However the gender gap only really widens for those adults aged 75+, where 51% of men and 38% of women were considered to be recent internet users.

As we always say at this point, not everybody wants to use the internet and nobody should force it on to those 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.

The fact that fixed line superfast broadband ISP or mobile broadband networks aren’t yet able to reach every corner of the UK is another issue, although the proposed 10Mbps USO may help to tackle that.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar Optimist

    I wonder how many of those people cannot see the screen? Perhaps there will be a greater take-up when devices can display webpages in Braille?

    • Avatar Marty

      Dolphin have such technology in which the computer can talk back to you but it’s far from usefull. Keyboards and other such things need to have a braille option with large letters in order for them to be more user friendly. As you say I agree with you on Web pages.

    • Avatar gerarda

      Braille displays have been around for a while.

  2. Avatar tonyp

    Perhaps all the scare stories about Internet, Online fraud, Bullying and so on, account for the vulnerable elderly being afraid(?) of the ‘net? Anyway, social media is no substitute for a good old chinwag over a cuppa methinks! I don’t think it is just a matter of technical knowledge.

  3. Avatar gerarda

    I suspect yet another meaningless gender gap statistic. The number of women exceeds the number of men by an increasing amount as they get older, and internet usage almost certainly declines too. There is virtually no difference in internet usage in those aged 65-74 and so no reason other than the skewed population to suggest that this suddenly changes at 75 plus

  4. Avatar Alan

    “As we always say at this point, not everybody wants to use the internet and nobody should force it on to those 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.”

    There is one old chap everyone knows and loves who drinks in my local, who i think put it very nicely when he saw someone gaming online on their mobile phone and was asked if he wanted a go… His response was “lad when i was your age i would be down the park still playing football with my mates and pulling the girls watching afterwards, when and if i feel like gaming nowadays i do the same thing only the girls have got older”

    It is not a lie either he plays indoor lawn bowls at a local place every week and is often seen out and about with his latest conquest.

    Maybe we should all still listen to our elders rather than get them to try and listen to us?

  5. Avatar Optimist

    Will there still be demand for internet access if the EU’s proposed legislation on copyright is enacted?
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180525/10072939912/forget-gdpr-eus-new-copyright-proposal-will-be-complete-utter-disaster-internet.shtml

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