Adults’ media use and attitudes report 2013
UK adults are spending more time online
There has been a significant increase in the self-reported volume of internet use since 2011. Overall estimated weekly volume of use of the internet among users has increased to an average of just under 17 hours per week (16.8 vs. 15.1 hours in 2011).
Over half (53%) of UK adults now use a mobile phone to go online, rising to 86% among smartphone users, and more than one in ten use a tablet computer (16%), games console/ player (16%), or a portable media player (12%), all significant increases since 2011.
On average, UK adult internet users claim to visit 19 websites in a typical week. There are considerable differences between demographic groups; for example, those over 75 estimate that they visit on average seven websites and 'narrow users'1 six. This compares to people in AB households, and men, who estimate that they visit on average 27 and 24 respectively. Some 22% UK adult internet users say they visit fewer than five websites in a typical week.
Smartphone growth continues, increasing mobile phone affinity
Smartphone ownership among UK adults rose from 44% to 54% in 2011. The fastest growth was among the 16-24s (+15 percentage points), with significant growth also seen among the 35-44s (+13 percentage points) and the 55-64s (+11 percentage points); all of these are significant increases since 2011.
Although television remains the media activity that is most likely to be missed by all adults (43%), this is not the case for 16-24s; they are twice as likely to say they would miss their mobile phone than any other medium. And adults with a smartphone (irrespective of age) are as likely to miss their mobile phone as their television (30%) - this is unchanged since 2011.
Smartphone users are more likely to carry out a variety of online activities, at least weekly, compared both to non-smartphone users, and to smartphone users in 2011. The most significant increases in use since 2011 are: 'features such as maps or satellite navigation to get where you want to go/plot a route to a destination' (+15 percentage points), followed by 'send or receive emails' and 'send or receive photo messages' (+12 percentage points).
Older users drive continued growth in social networking
In 2012 just under two in three (64%) adult internet users said they had a social networking profile, a significant increase on 59% in 2011. This growth has been driven by users aged 55-64, 35% of whom now have profiles, compared to 24% in 2011. There has been no significant growth among any other age group since 2011.
Seven in ten (72%) of those with a social networking profile claim to visit social networking websites at least daily. Half claim to visit sites more than once a day, with just under one in ten (9%) visiting more than ten times a day.
On average, we found that UK adults with a social networking profile have 237 friends or contacts on their main social networking site, and this figure varies considerably with age. For example, those aged 16-24 claimed to have 352 friends, compared to 161 among those aged 35-44 and 126 among those aged over 45.
But despite this increase in use, trust in social networking sites is lower than in 2011, with 43% of UK adult internet users disagreeing that they trust what they read or see when they visit social networking sites, an increase from 35% in 2011. This attitude is shown across almost all age groups.
Security and safety habits are mixed
While overall levels of concern about the internet have stayed at the same rate as 2011, specific concerns about security have increased; those saying they are concerned about security/fraud online have gone up from 21% to 25% since 2011. Around half of all internet users say they have experienced spam/ unwanted emails (52%), with around a quarter experiencing a computer virus (25%) or receiving an unsolicited email directing them to a website which encouraged them to provide personal details (26%).
Three in four (75%) smartphone users say they use a screen lock, with 50% stating they have PIN protection for their SIM card. This is higher than for non-smartphone users, where these features are used by 40% and 20% respectively.
However, password security remains a challenge - more than half (55%) of internet users claim to use the same passwords for most websites. A quarter (25%) of users said they had problems remembering passwords, with this being more likely among users aged 55-64 (33% ) and less likely among 16-24s, and C2s (both 18%). A similar proportion of users (26%) said they tended to use easy-to-remember passwords like birthdays or names.
There has been an increase in understanding of how search engines operate
The numbers who understand how search engines are funded has risen from 23% in 2005 to 36% in 2012, and the numbers who understand how search engine results pages operate has risen from 50% in 2010 to 60% in 2012. The increase in understanding about funding is apparent across almost all age and socio-economic groups, although the increase in understanding how search engines operate appears only among the under-45s.
Increase in the number of people who believe the internet is regulated
UK adults are now more likely than in 2011 to think that internet content is regulated (44% vs. 40%). This compares to 84% who believe that television content is regulated, 73% for radio, 42% for gaming and 29% for mobile phone content, none of which have changed since 2011.
Forty-four per cent of UK adults think that programmes, or clips of programmes shown on broadcasters' websites (such as the BBC website or the ITV website), are regulated. While this is a decrease since 2011 (48%), it is substantially greater than in 2007 (27%). Three in ten (30%) of UK adults also think that the content shown on sites like YouTube and home-made videos by the general public is regulated, a rise since 2007 (12%).
This belief in internet content regulation is likely to have an impact both on people's behaviour online and their perceptions of online content.
Four in ten internet users are 'critically aware' and similar numbers are very confident / broad users
Analysis of these types of user shows us that the various elements of media literacy tend to go together - the more people go online, the more they are likely to be critically aware, confident, risk aware, and so on. They are also more likely to encounter negative experiences, but among these types of user such experiences do not hinder further use and activity.
Both newer, and narrow, internet users claim to spend less time online and visit fewer websites
Both these groups are likely to be more cautious in most of their online activities, and carry out fewer activities, than internet users as a whole.
Both newer4 and narrow internet users have a far lower estimated weekly volume of use (8.9 and 6.6 hours respectively) compared to 16.8 hours among all internet users, and they carry out fewer activities online. Both these groups are more likely only to visit websites they have visited before. Just under half (49%) of newer internet users estimate that they visit fewer than five websites in a typical week, with narrow users estimating that they visit on average six websites in the same period. This compares to the average of 19 websites among all internet users.
Twice as many newer users than established users say that they never share personal information online (26% vs. 12%) and they are less likely to say they would make a judgement about a website (74% vs. 82%).
Narrow users are more likely than all internet users to say that security concerns prevent them entering personal details for the following activities: shopping online (14% vs. 6%), using government websites (11% vs. 5%) and banking online (21% vs. 10%).
The majority of non-users continue to cite 'lack of interest' as their main reason for not going online
One in seven UK adults do not have the internet at home and do not intend to get access in the next 12 months. This level of non-use is unchanged since 2011 (15% in both 2011 and 2012). Those over 65 are the most likely not to have home access to the internet (56% of 65-74s and 28% of 75+ currently have internet access, compared to 79% of all adults) and are more likely to say they do not intend to get access (38% for 65-74s and 67% among over-75s). The reasons most often cited for not intending to get the internet continue to be 'lack of interest' (85%), followed by cost (23%) and reasons relating to ownership / availability, for example not having a computer (19%).
1 'Narrow' users are defined as those ever carrying out 1-6 of the 18 types of online activity we ask about, and account for two in ten of all internet users (18% vs. 21% in 2011).
2 We took five core questions that relate to critical understanding in the survey, and created a group of those who responded in a particular way to at least four of them - see page 18 for details.
3 We define this group as those who consider themselves to be very confident internet users, and say they ever carry out between 11 and 18 activities out of a possible 18.
4 Newer users are defined as those who first started using the internet up to five years ago, with those who first started using the internet five or more years ago defined as more established users.