People in the UK are becoming increasingly comfortable with the internet and are spending 50 percent more time online than they were five years ago, a media literacy survey by Ofcom has shown.
The telecoms regulator said on Thursday that 50 percent of people had "concerns over the internet", which is significantly down the 70 percent who had such concerns in 2007. Probably not coincidentally, the average user now spends more than 15 hours online each week, whereas they spent just shy of 10 hours online each week in 2007.
The statistics were included in Ofcom's latest Adults Media Use and Attitudes Report, which usually comes out once a year.
The percentage of adults accessing the internet on smartphones shot up by almost half between 2010 and 2011, according to the report — up from 30 percent to 44 percent.
68 percent of those surveyed use the internet to find out information about public services, 79 percent use it to plan leisure activities, and 48 percent watch TV and films online or download them.
According to the survey, 61 percent of adults bank or pay bills online. Forty-seven percent "have some concerns about entering credit card details online (but would do so)" — a percentage that has barely changed over the last five years — and 56 percent would look to padlock icons and other "formal" signs before deciding whether or not to enter personal details online.
While most internet users appear to value privacy, a sizeable proportion seems happily lax on that front. Sixteen percent of social networkers share their contact details with anyone or friends of friends, and 26 percent "say their personal information, such as their date of birth or hometown, can potentially be seen by people they do not know", Ofcom said.
Interestingly, one in four of those surveyed said they read websites' terms and conditions and privacy policies thoroughly, and one in four said they never read them.
Young people aged between 16 and 24 are much less likely to read these policy documents than older users, and are also much more likely to enter personal data into websites without much consideration.