[DIGITAL] New Media Literacy Bulletin from @Ofcom

July’s media bulletin from @Ofcom was released today, highlighting four reports that Ofcom have produced – essential reading for understanding the UK’s digital environment:

Key finding from ‘Adults: Media Use and Attitudes 2019‘ report from Ofcom:

  • Mobile phones are increasingly integral to everyday life and half of adults now say, of all devices, they would miss their mobile phone the most.
  • One in three adults never use a computer to go online and one in ten only use a smartphone, an increase since 2017. • Video-on-demand and streamed content is becoming a central part of adults’ viewing landscape.
  • Social media users are less likely than in 2017 to see views they disagree with on social media.
  • Compared to 2017, internet users are more likely to have encountered hateful content online, however most didn’t do anything about it.
  • Although most internet users are aware of at least one of the ways in which their personal data might be collected online, less than four in ten are aware of all the ways we asked about.
  • There has been little change in critical awareness in the past few years, with many still lacking the critical skills needed to identify when they are being advertised to online.
  • One in ten internet users say they don’t think about the truthfulness of online content, although those who do are more likely than in 2017 to make checks to verify the information.
  • Thirteen percent of UK adults do not use the internet, unchanged since 2014; those aged 55 and over and in the DE socio-economic group remain less likely to be online.
  • One in seven adults of working age in DE households do not go online, and when they do, one in five only go online via a smartphone.

Extract from key findings of Adults’ Media Lives 2019 from Ofcom (with discussion guide used):

  • Online behaviour is increasingly segmented across the sample, with a clear difference between those who use the internet for what might be described as “basic” tasks, and those who are using it for a wider and more diverse range of activities. The latter group includes a growing subset of participants who now use social media platforms proactively as part of their work – either promoting their own businesses or the organisations they work for.
  • Changes in lifestage and domestic circumstances continue to impact greatly upon media usage and attitudes. Some younger participants described themselves as “growing up” and having less time to spend on (e.g.) social media. Some older participants are becoming more housebound, which means that they are more dependent on media technology both for entertainment (e.g. TV) and practical support (e.g. online shopping).
  • There were numerous examples of participants using information tools to become more savvy customers. These included conducting online research to find the best new deal for mobile, broadband and TV services, and using apps and/or email notifications to check their bills and keep tabs on their data usage.
  • More participants are now accessing a range of online learning opportunities. These included formal education, work-based learning and informal learning opportunities via YouTube videos, specialist educational sites, Facebook groups, etc. However, such use is concentrated among the internet savvy, and is not necessarily empowering those with less confidence or less appetite to learn to try something new.
  • Cameras are being used more for online communication and other applications. There has been a marked increase in claimed use of FaceTime and Skype, examples of participants enjoying the benefits of specialist apps which exploit their devices’ camera functionality, and increased interest in dashcams and bodycams.
  • There are growing concerns about media technology “spying” on users. Some of these related specifically to “always on” voice-controlled technology such as Amazon’s Alexa. However, several participants also spontaneously cited examples of being served ads related to the topics of their face-to-face conversations (not using technology at all).

See also

  • ‘Online Nation is a new annual report that looks at what people are doing online, how they are served by online content providers and platforms, and their attitudes to and experiences of using the internet.’: Summary // Full Report.
  • Internet users’ experience of harm online 2019, designed to quantify concerns about, reported experiences of and potential sources of online harm in three key categories:
    • Content that people view, read or listen to online and interactions with other users
    • Data/privacy
    • Hacking/security

[REPORT] The Real Digital Divide by @goodthingsfdn


As I seek to encourage people to see the possibilities and the positives in digital technology, it’s important to keep an eye on where the digital divide is (see recent Digital Leaders event), such as in this latest research:

“The real digital divide?’ report breaks down the demographics of people who are not gaining full benefit from the internet – either because they’re complete non-users, or that they’re using the internet in a limited way – be it only using one site or a couple of apps, or going online less than once a week.

90% of non users are likely to be disadvantaged – which takes into account poor health and disability, social class and those who left school at 16 or under.  We know basic digital skills is a big issue (18% of people say they aren’t online as they don’t have the skills), but it’s not the only measure of whether people are digitally excluded. Looking at usage helps us to show that digital exclusion is a much more complex issue.

For people to thrive in today’s increasingly digital world, using the internet on a regular basis and using the breadth of what’s on offer is vital. This might be to keep an eye your bank balance, check on the price of your utilities, or to find work. Most people in work are using the internet on a daily basis. If people aren’t using the internet weekly, they’re likely to be excluded in a range of ways – including having less money available, fewer opportunities to find work, and less access to information that might make their lives better – such as health information, information to help their children with their homework, and more. So the way people are using the internet – how much and how often – is vital to understand whether they’re really getting the benefit they could be.”

Download report from Good Things Foundation.


[REPORT] ‘Smartphone by default’ internet users from @Ofcom

Ofcom just published a new report looking a ‘smartphone by default’ users. The report starts:


Ofcom commissioned ESRO to investigate the experiences of ‘smartphone by default’ internet users, and fieldwork was carried out in early 2016. The research project focused on those who conduct the vast majority of their online activities through their smartphone – either through choice or due to external factors limiting their access to alternative devices. The sample contained participants with a choice of alternative devices available to them, and those for whom alternative options were much more limited. Ofcom data show that approximately one in six adults now rely solely on devices such as smartphones and tablets for online access, and the trend is rising: at 16% in 2015, this is almost three times as likely as in the previous year (6%) .

The project aimed to investigate the ways in which heavy reliance on a smartphone could affect digital behaviour and media literacy. Furthermore, it sought to consider to what extent smartphones are enabling, or limiting, when used as a primary device for online access. It is important to monitor these issues, as unequal access to internet services can create new forms of exclusion.

Download the full report (PDF)


[REPORT] Adults Media Use and Attitudes with @Ofcom

A report published by Ofcom as part of their media literacy duties. It provides research that looks at media use, attitudes and understanding, and how these change over time, with a particular focus on those groups that tend not to participate digitally. The report covers TV, radio, mobile, games, and the internet, with a particular focus on the latter.

The report focuses on the current wave of research which was conducted in autumn 2015 and any key changes compared to 2014.

Findings include:

  • a considerable rise (10 percentage points over a year to 16%) in the proportion of adults who only use smartphones or tablets to go online, rather than a PC or laptop. This indicates that these devices are not just supplementing PCs and laptops, but are starting to replace them;
  • a sizeable increase (11 percentage points over a year to 42%) in the proportion of internet users who say they only use websites or apps that they’ve used before. This trend, which is particularly prominent in over 25s, points to a narrowing use of the internet, with people focusing on content and apps that they use regularly;
  • seven in ten adults now use a smartphone, the device most used for accessing social media and the preferred device for the majority of online activities. Mobile phones have become the media device people would miss most, overtaking the television set; and
  • half of adults (51%) that use search engines are not aware that the top items on many results pages are adverts or sponsored links, indicating there is a need for people to be more aware or savvy about the content they are accessing online.
  • there’s a largely steady growth in the number of people with social media profiles:


The report can be found online


[RESEARCH] Who is Generation Next?

who-is-generation-nextThe National Children’s Bureau has just published the following report: Who is Generation Next? An excerpt from the Foreword:

These 11 to 16 year-olds, growing up in the context of significant economic challenges and with the proliferation of new technology, share some of the concerns of their parents’ generation. Across the generations, crime, activities for young people and street cleanliness are identified as local priorities. However, they have their own challenges too. They are anxious about getting good grades and a job when they leave school, about their appearance and about their parents working too hard. Many believe it will be harder for them to buy a house or get a job than it was for their parents. In fact, only a minority of Generation Next think life will be better for them than it was for their parents.

At the same time we see real hope for a future society led by these children. The majority believe that gender and ethnicity does not pose a barrier to getting a good job, and hopefully they will hold to that belief as future employers and employees. Nevertheless, many still think getting a well-paid job will be easier for those with a rich family or who went to private school.

Many children and young people believe 16 and 17 year-olds should have the opportunity to vote. However, the research shows that the majority are undecided about their political allegiances. It may be that we are moving away from a political culture dominated by party loyalty and identity politics, and towards a more independent culture in which individual issues matter more than party allegiance. These children and young people have much to tell those who lead this country. Like adults, they want to see health services and education at the top of the national agenda.


Thanks to Rev Mary Hawes for spotting this one.