Printable version E-mail this to a friend

e-Society: how the internet has changed the UK

The Office for National Statistics has published a new report on e-Society, outlining how internet use has changed and how the internet is changing life in the UK.

The report covers areas such as the 'digital divide' between households, social networking, education and work and e-Government.

The internet and the UK

 In the 20 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee published the first ever website the internet has changed the way we work, learn, make friends and interact with government.


Internet access and the 'digital divide'

In 2010, 73 per cent of households in the UK had internet access, compared with just 57 per cent of households in 2006.

Of those houses with internet access, in 2009 90 per cent had some form of broadband connection. In 2006, just 69 per cent of households with internet access had broadband.

As internet access becomes more widespread, there is growing concern about the ‘digital divide’ between those that have access and those that don’t.

This gap appears to be closely linked to household income. For example, in terms of income, in 2008 households in the top 10 per cent were more than three times as likely to have internet access than those in the lowest 10 per cent.

Almost all households (96 per cent) in the highest income group had internet access in 2008, compared with just 26 per cent in the lowest income group.

Social networking and other activities

Social networking has exploded in popularity over the last few years. In 2009, 40 per cent of men and 48 per cent of women had set up their own profile on a social networking site. This compares with 21 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women in 2007.

Alongside this growth in popularity has been growing concern about privacy. In 2009, 80 per cent of users had profiles which can only be seen by ‘friends’, compared with 48 per cent in 2007.

As well as adults, social networking has proved extremely popular with children. While the minimum age for setting up a profile on social networking sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace is 13, 25 per cent of children aged 8 to 12 who use the Internet at home say they have a page or profile on one of these three websites

Education and work

Research has shown a close link between school children’s use of the internet at home and improved educational performance in certain areas. This has raised concerns about children who do not have internet access at home.

Of those children who use the internet at home, most used the internet for schoolwork or homework at least once a week in 2009.

Computers and the internet are also used for working from home. In the second quarter of 2009, the Labour Force Survey estimated that 10 per cent of workers in the UK worked at or from home using a phone and computer.

Nine per cent of workers said that they could not work at or from home without using both a telephone and computer.


In recent years there has been a drive to put more information about the availability and quality of public services online.

In 2009, the UK was rated as having 100 per cent online public service availability. Only four of the 27 countries in the European Union managed to achieve a 100 per cent rating. The average across the EU for public service online availability was 74 per cent.

Public service online availability is based on how many of 20 basic services it is possible to carry out online.

Further information

Read the full 'e-Society' report from the Office for National Statistics by following the link below.

PDNS: Mandatory Active Cyber Defence for Public Sector Networks. Latest Guide