By Peter Griffiths
Young people, wealthy families and graduates use the Internet more
than the elderly, poor or unqualified, according to a report that
highlights Britain's growing "digital divide."
Internet access is directly linked to people's age, income and
education, the Office for National Statistics said in a major survey of
the use of computers, cellphones and digital television.
While most young people regularly access the Web, more than half of
those aged 50 or over have not used a computer in the last three
One in 12 British households has no access to the Internet, a
cellphone or digital TV, according to the report "Focus on the Digital
Age," published on Thursday.
Nine out of 10 of the highest-earning households have Internet access,
compared to less than 20 percent for those on the lowest incomes.
Graduates were four times more likely to use the Internet regularly than
those with no qualifications, the study found.
The number of families with home Internet access shot up to 55 percent
in 2005-06 from just one in 10 in 1998-99, although the growth rate
Digital TV has seen an even greater rise. Nearly two-thirds of houses
have digital, satellite or cable receivers, compared to a fifth a
The proportion of adults using the Internet declines with age. Only 15
percent of those aged 65 and over visit Web sites.
However, the number of people aged between 55 and 64 going online rose
to 52 percent by April 2006 from 30 percent in 2001-02.
The most common reasons given by older people for not using the
Internet were a lack of interest or confidence; having no computer;
seeing no benefits in the Web and cost.
Others said they relied on someone else to access the Web for them.
The report said a government campaign has made the Internet available
to those without computers at most libraries and at online centers and
some post offices.
The boundaries between computers, phones and televisions have been
blurred by technological advances, the report said.
Many cellphones can access the Internet and send e-mail and some
televisions allow people to surf the net or play games.
The report is at http://www.statistics.gov.uk/focuson/digitalage/ .
Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: A young man (well, 38 years old;
younger than myself!) who is assigned to come over here to my
house every day and look after me is in a difficult position, where
internet is concerned. He has epilepsy, mostly under control, but
he _cannot_ use internet at all; viewing the screen sets off his
epileptic siezures. Apparently it's the pixels which are too close
together; makes it very difficult for him to use computers for that
reason. Raymond asks me to help him look up data through Google and
elsewhere while he stands to the side and avoids looking at the
screen for more than a minute or two at a time. He has had epilepsy
since he was born, and I have to feel very sorry for him as a result.
But he _can_ watch television, apparently the pixels on the screen
are different. PAT]