OXFORD: Survey shows internet ‘taking over lives’ 

The number of Brits using the internet has reached 78% of those aged 14 years or more, compared with 59% in 2003 – yet more than half do it without enthusiasm, and nearly one in six (14%) feel the internet is ‘taking over their lives and invading their privacy’. These results, from a recent survey conducted by the University’s Oxford Internet Institute, a partner in Europaeum activities, also showed an additional one-third (37%) had ‘no strong feelings either for or against’. The report is based on face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 2,000 UK internet users. One noteworthy trend is a levelling off in the popularity of social networking sites with two-thirds (61%) of internet users, using them, after explosive growth until 2011. Most users of social network sites are under 35, but with a substantial rise in users aged 45-54 years – from 10% in 2007, to 51% in 2013. The digital divide in Britain continues to narrow, suggests the report, with those never going online falling from 23% in 2011 to 18% in 2013. Yet while everyone owns a tv, one-quarter (24%) do not have a computer. Lead researchers Professor William Dutton and Dr Grant Blank said although the internet – developed after the discovery of the world wide web 25 years ago – is an integral part of most people’s lives in Britain today, half of Brits appear to use it without enthusiasm. “These are people who use the internet because they have to, not because they want to. They don’t go online to enjoy themselves and they don’t feel more productive online. They also perceive problems, particularly with regard to privacy, frustration and wasted time.”