Ofcom publishes regular research into people’s attitudes to various forms of media, including digital, and the latest has just been published. Here’s the brief overview at the beginning:
Internet use is becoming more mobile, with more people going online via their smartphones and accessing the internet in locations other than work and home. This connectivity is affecting our lives in many ways, with increasing take-up of communication services like WhatsApp, more use of streaming and on-demand services, more access to creative opportunities, and YouTube and social media increasingly being used as sources of news and information.
So it is perhaps not surprising that the majority continue to say that for them the benefits of the internet outweigh the risks. However, this connectivity can be overwhelming, with a third saying they would like to cut down on the time they spend online. It can also bring downsides, most notably nearly half of internet users say they have seen hateful content online in the past year.
Given these downsides, critical thinking skills are of particular interest. People need the skills to question and make judgements about their online environment. These skills are important as they enable them to keep themselves and others safe, to understand when they are being advertised to and how their data is being used, and to know when something could be biased or misleading. Our research shows that many people struggle with at least some of these elements.
It is also important to remember that although the internet seems ubiquitous, the online experience is not the same for everyone. Our research reveals significant differences, by age and by socioeconomic group, in the numbers who are online at all, and in the extent to which those who are online have the critical skills to understand and safely navigate their online world.
You can download the full file from Ofcom.