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Email ‘most common internet activity’ in Britain

by Loknath Das

Person sending an email

Emailing has held on to the top spot as the most common internet activity in Britain, despite the continued rise of social media, a survey has found.

Some 82% of adults say they most often use the web for email, the Office for National Statistics reported – a rise of three percentage points since 2016.

Finding information on goods and services came second, at 71%, followed by social networking at 66%.

Internet use on mobile devices also continues to rise, the ONS said.

The findings are part of an annual survey of internet habits, covering more than 2,500 respondents across Great Britain, which found people were using the internet more for a range of everyday activities.

It suggested the proportion reading online news or magazines this year was up four percentage points at 64%, and had tripled since 2007.

Woman's trainersImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionClothes and sports goods were the most popular online purchase

Internet banking was found to have increased from 30% to 63% in the last decade, and social networking had gained 21 points since 2011 – the earliest year for which figures are available.

The proportion of adults who shopped online was static at 77%, with sports goods and clothes still the most common purchases.

Changing shopping habits

However, there was a tail-off among some groups of shoppers.

The proportion of those aged 25 to 34 shopping online fell from 93% in 2016 to 89% this year.

And there was a slight drop among 55 to 64-year-olds to 75%, although that is still about a third more than in 2008.

Overall, the number of households that has an internet connection has hit 90% after a 1% rise since 2016.

Of those without access, about two-thirds said they felt the internet was “not useful or interesting”, although a fifth said they lacked the skills to use the web.

Meanwhile the proportion of all adults accessing the internet via mobiles was 78% – up from 75% in 2016 and 61% in 2011.


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