Australia in the digital economy: Online participation

7 May 2009

Age is the most significant driver of internet use in the home, according to an new Australian Communications and Media Authority report.

The report indicates that nearly three out of four people (specifically, 73 per cent) have a home internet connection and 87 per cent of the population have used the internet. In contrast, only 48 per cent of people aged 65 and over have the internet at home and 44 per cent have never used the internet.

‘The report indicates that lack of interest or cost remains the most frequently reported reasons for not using the internet,’ said Mr Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman. ‘As well as age, there are a number of other factors which affect the willingness to subscribe to an internet or broadband service at home, including educational level, work status, occupation, income and living arrangements,’

‘The majority of older non-internet users see no real benefit in using the internet, while non-internet users aged between 18 and 49 years identified cost as the major barrier to connection. The majority (77 per cent) of those not online do not plan to connect or use the internet in the future,’ Mr Chapman said.

‘Addressing these barriers to participation is important for social inclusion and ensuring that all Australians can garner the benefits of online activities in the rapidly evolving digital economy. Access to the internet, an understanding of how to effectively use it and managing online risks are all important to a wider adoption of the internet and its role in underpinning the digital economy.’

The report, Australia in the Digital Economy: Online participation, estimates that of those people using the internet, the proportion that log on more than once a day (‘heavy users’) has increased from 36 per cent in the quarter ending September 2004 to 52 per cent in the quarter ending June 2008. The majority (84 per cent) of users are logging on at least weekly (‘medium users’).

All respondents aged 14 to 17 have used the internet and 92 per cent were heavy or medium users. Around 55 per cent of those aged 14 to 49 were heavy users.

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