The Australian Research Centre for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation has just released the results of the CCi Digital Futures Report, “The Internet in Australia”. Here is an abridged summary of the findings:
Most Australians are internet users…
The overwhelming majority of Australians are internet users…. almost three quarters of Australians had used the internet in the past three months. Just under four in five home connections are broadband.
… but there is still a digital divide.
A fifth of the population have never used the internet, while just fewer than one in ten Australians are ex-users. Ex-users and non-users have different reasons for not using the internet. Ex-users are more likely to cite being too busy or not having a computer or internet connection while non-users are more likely to say they are confused by the technology or have no interest in the internet.
The internet in Australia is maturing and broadband is still growing
The internet is a fairly mature technology in Australia. A majority of internet users are ‘experienced users’, having used for between six and ten years. Just under one in five are ‘old hands’ (10 years or more). A very small proportion of users had taken up use in the last year. Broadband access however, is still in a rapid take-up phase.
The internet is an important way for people to keep in touch
Overall internet use has increased the time people spend communicating with friends and family. On the other hand, for a significant proportion of people their internet use has resulted in less time spent face-to-face with household members. Email is the most popular means for communicating online. Over three quarters … check their email at least once a day. Instant messaging is also a popular communications tool with one in five users messaging daily. Most people do not make phone calls over the internet but those that do use it very regularly.
The internet changes media use
For users the internet is now their most important source of information. Just under seven in ten users described the internet as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ compared to a third for television and less than a half for newspapers or radio.
Internet users spend less time watching television, listening to radio and reading newspapers than nonusers.
Television watching is the media-related activity most affected by internet use. Four in ten users say they watch less television since access while less than a quarter feel they read newspapers or books less.
Overall, internet users rate the internet as reliable an information source as newspapers and more reliable than television.
The internet is a major source of entertainment
The internet is an increasingly important source of entertainment, however it is yet to really challenge television or even radio for most users. The proportion of users who describe the internet as a very important source of entertainment is just slightly less than the proportion for television. Downloading or listening to music online, surfing or browsing the web, finding out information about food such as recipes, looking for information about restaurants and visiting sites dedicated to particular artists are the most popular entertainment-related internet activities.
The internet enables people’s creativity
Users are positive about the impact of internet use on creativity and productivity. A half felt internet access had improved their work performance and less than one in twenty thought it had deteriorated. Few internet users have a personal website or blog. Around a quarter post their photographs online while one in twenty post video footage.
The internet changes politics
Just under a half of users agreed that the internet has become important for the political campaign process. Close to a third of non-users said they did not know if this was the case while just over a third agreed. Overall non-users were more sceptical about the internets’ capacity to empower citizens than users. Perhaps more importantly, a sizeable proportion of non-users simply didn’t know what impact the internet was having on politics.
People shop online but they have reservations
Just under a half … purchased at least one product a month. Those who used the internet to purchase spent on average $200 per month online (the median amount spent was $100). More than eight in ten users research products online. Making travel bookings, paying bills, banking and purchasing event tickets were all popular online activities.
A majority of users are ‘very’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about credit card security online. In relation to privacy issues involved with e-commerce the figure is just under a half.