UK adults’ media literacy
2009 interim report
This report is designed to give an accessible overview of media literacy among UK adults aged 16 and over. The purpose of this report is to support people working in this area to develop and promote media literacy.
It is an interim report: that is, it reports on one wave of data from spring 2009. Data from autumn 2009 will be amalgamated into it, and a full-year report published in early 2010, which will provide more detailed reporting in a number of areas.
Take-up and media preferences
UK adults have high levels of household take-up of digital television (89%) and the internet (73%), and nine in ten (91%) use mobile phones. Since 2007, household take-up of digital television and the internet and the use of mobile phones have increased significantly. Three in four adults use the internet at home or elsewhere in 2009 (75%), compared to two-thirds (63%) in 2007 and three-fifths (59%) in 2005.
Although there has been an above-average increase in household take-up of the internet among older adults aged 65+ (41%) and those in DE socio-economic groups (51%), these figures are still at a much lower level compared to all UK adults (73%).
The growth in household take-up of the internet since the 2007 survey has meant that the profile of internet users has changed, with more users in older age groups.
Most of those who do not have, and do not intend to get, the internet at home give reasons relating to a lack of interest, as in previous years of this research. While lack of interest is still the most common reason for not intending to get the internet, it is less likely to be mentioned now than in 2007. Reasons relating to cost are more likely to be mentioned than in 2007. Not having a PC/ laptop is also given as a reason by 26% of this group.
While half of all UK adults (51%) say they would miss watching television the most, more adults now nominate using the internet, compared to 2007 (15% vs. 12%). Younger adults, aged 16-24 (39%) and 25-34 (40%), and those in AB socio-economic groups (42%), are less likely to say that they would most miss watching television.
Using the internet
As in previous years, communication is the most commonly mentioned activity carried out on a regular basis(-1-) by internet users (76%). Compared to 2007, however, fewer internet users are regularly carrying out transactions online (36% vs. 41%) or finding information online for their work / studies (35% vs. 48%). There has been a considerable increase in regular use of the internet for content creation (through social networking sites) (34% vs. 22%) and for entertainment (30% vs. 22%). It is possible that this change in the range of activities can be partly explained by the change in the profile of internet users since 2007.
One in three UK adults who use the internet (29%) say they are watching online or downloading TV programmes or films. Almost all of these are doing so through UK TV broadcasters websites (such as BBC iPlayer) (27%), with a much smaller proportion watching online or downloading TV programmes or movies from other websites (9%).
Almost twice as many internet users now have a social networking site profile than in 2007 (38% vs. 22%) and there has also been an increase in contributing comments to someone else's blog (26% vs. 19%). Experience of other types of online content creation has not changed since 2007.
Compared to 2007, those with a social networking site profile are more likely to use these sites every day (41% vs. 30%), to have a profile which can be seen only by their friends or family (78% vs. 48%), and to use the sites to communicate with their friends and family (80% vs. 69%).
Understanding, security and concerns
Knowledge of how the BBC is funded has declined since 2007 for BBC TV programmes (75% vs. 80%), BBC radio stations (55% vs. 62%) and the BBC website (36% vs. 41%). Compared to all UK adults, there are consistently lower levels of awareness of the licence fee as the main source of funding among adults aged 16-24, females, and those in DE socio-economic groups.
Compared to 2007, UK adults are more likely to believe that content is regulated across each of television (82% vs. 79%), radio (68% vs. 58%), the internet (38% vs. 26%), mobile phones (25% vs. 20%) and gaming (36% vs. 29%).
More UK adults believe that file sharing through downloading shared copies of copyright music and films should be illegal (42%) than believe it should not be illegal (33%), and 25% are unsure. Young people aged 16-24 are more likely to say that such content should not be illegal (55%).
Internet users appear to be less willing to provide personal information online than was the case in 2007. Those who are more confident using the internet are more likely to say they would be happy to provide personal information online. The types of judgements made about websites before entering personal information have not changed particularly, but there has been an increase in those who say they wouldn't make a judgement before entering personal information.
The proportion of adults mentioning any concerns has decreased since 2007 for each of television, radio, the internet, mobile phones and gaming. For TV, radio, and the internet this takes overall concerns back to 2005 levels. Just over half of adults have concerns about what is on the internet (56%) and just under half have concerns about what is on television (44%). Concern about what is on the internet mostly relates to offensive or illegal content. Concerns about mobile phones (24%), gaming (23%) and radio (9%) are at a lower level.
When asked about their preferred way of learning about digital technology, half of adults nominate reading the manual / instructions, an increase since 2007 (49% vs. 45%). Despite an increase in the number of those who prefer to go to a class to learn about digital technology (10% vs. 6%), few adults prefer this more formal method of learning.
One in four adults have experience of formal learning about digital technology, which is lower than in 2007 (23% vs. 27%). Experience of formal learning mostly relates to using the internet. Experience of formal learning about digital technology is less likely among those aged 65 and over compared to adults as a whole (17% vs. 23%). As in 2007, one in three UK adults would be interested in learning more about digital technology (30% vs. 31%). Interest in learning more also mostly relates to using the internet.
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UK adults’ media literacy (270 kB)
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