The number of adults using the internet daily has more than doubled in the past seven years, new figures show.
The statistics also reveal that the number of people selling goods over the internet has increased by more than 100 per cent since 2006.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that 36 million adults – or 73 per cent – were daily internet users in 2013, up from the 35 per cent recorded in 2006, when comparable records began.
And the data showed that more than half of adults use smartphones to access the internet. This represents only a small rise from 2012, which saw 51 per cent use smartphones. But it has almost doubled since 2010, when the figure stood at 24 per cent. But the figures also revealed that nearly a fifth of British households still have no access to the internet.
While more than a third of people aged 65 and older access the internet daily, Age UK said that there are “still millions of older people, particularly those aged 75 and over” who have never been online. It was revealed that more people than ever before are reading newspapers or magazines online, with 55 per cent choosing to do so.
Record numbers were also using the web to access their bank accounts, trawl for health information or buy their groceries.
“The internet has changed the way people go about their daily lives. This release highlights that activities previously carried out on the high street are now increasingly being carried out online,” the ONS said.
The figures revealed that 61 per cent connect while “on the go”, using a mobile phone, laptop or tablet. The introduction of high-speed 4G broadband and an increasing number of Wi-Fi hotspots means the internet is used by more people than ever, ONS analysts said.
But there are still four million homes without access, compared with 10 million in 2006. Of those with no internet at home, 59 per cent claim they do not need to go online.
“While this may suggest that many households without the internet are actively choosing not to subscribe, there is still a large and important minority who state that barriers prevent them from connecting to the internet,” the ONS said.
Age UK director general Michelle Mitchell said: “It is positive news that more than a third of people aged 65 and over use the internet on a daily basis as the internet can offer a myriad of benefits. However, we know that there are still millions of older people, particularly those aged 75 and over, who have never used the internet.
“While more people in later life are getting online even those who do use the internet remain reluctant to undertake activities such as internet banking with less than a quarter having done so and only 36 per cent having purchased items online. Older people are also less likely to use government websites than younger people.
“In the context of the government and businesses directing people to use their services online, it is important that on-going training and support are available for the five million people aged 65 and over who have never been online, as well as for those who are online but who may need additional help to undertake certain activities.”
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