What you need to know from the latest ONS Internet Access report

The latest Office for National Statistics Internet Access report for Great Britain was released last week and is, as always, a fascinating read.

I wrote about last years report as well: read my blog about the 2018 ONS report here.


The report includes data on age, sex, disability and geographical location including:

  • 93% of households in the UK have internet access, up from just 9% in 1998 when the ONS started collecting data on internet usage.

  • 87% of all adults used the internet daily or almost every day in 2019.

  • In 2019, 61% of households without the internet did not feel that they needed the internet.

  • In 2019, for the first time, more than half of adults aged 65 years and over shopped online, at 54%.

  • The percentage of adults who make video or voice calls over the internet has more than trebled over the past decade, to 50% in 2019.

87% of adults use the internet daily

In a change from the last report, the ONS are now looking at whether people use the internet daily rather than weekly. Last year’s report said 89% of adults used the internet at least every week - up from 51% in 2006.

As with previous reports, older age groups are less likely to go online. 24% of those aged 65+ had not used the internet in the past three months at all.


Accessing the internet while on the move is proving more popular than ever

84% of adults had used the internet “on the go” in 2019, using a mobile phone, smartphone, laptop, tablet or handheld device; mobile phones and smartphones are the most popular devices (79%).

This has risen by from 53% since 2013. Other mobile devices were used far less to access the internet on the go, with 39% of adults using a tablet and 36% of adults using a laptop.

Email is still number one

The most popular activity on the internet is still accessing email, with 86% of adults sending or receiving email online, up from 84% last year.

Skype and Whatsapp are still proving popular, with 72% of people using internet messaging services, as do listening to music (65%), looking for health information (63%) and online banking (50%).

The only activity measured that showed a decrease was uploading created content to a website to be shared, which dropped to 35% of adults in 2019, down from 48% in 2017 when it was last measured.

This is despite the proliferation of apps and tools making the creation of content simpler and quicker.

More than half of those aged 65+ now buy online

In 2019, among all adults, 82% bought goods or services online in the last 12 months, an increase of 5 percentage points since 2018. This is seen mainly in adults aged 35 years and over, with a 6 percentage point increase since 2018. In comparison, there was little change in adults aged under 35 years who shopped online, at 1 percentage point since 2018. At 54% in 2019, this was the first time that over half of adults aged 65 years and over were online shoppers.

The percentage of disabled adult internet shoppers was lower than those who were not disabled, at 73% and 85% respectively. I think this needs more research to understand why this is the case, and whether we need to do more to narrow this gap.

Read more from the ONS Internet Access report on their website.