Internet use

Published

Last updated 16 September 2019 - see all updates

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2019, 90.8% of people aged 16 and over had used the internet in the 3 months prior to being surveyed (making them ‘recent internet users’)
  • the Indian and White ethnic groups had the lowest percentages of recent internet users (at 90.4% and 90.5%) and the Chinese ethnic group had the highest (98.6%)
  • the largest regional difference in internet use between ethnic groups was amongst Asian people in the West Midlands (86.8%) and the South East (97.4%)
Things you need to know

Results have been excluded (‘suppressed’) for ethnic groups, age groups, and regions where sample sizes were too small to generate reliable results.

For example, there were 22 respondents aged 75 or older in the Other ethnic group, which is too small a sample to produce a reliable estimate. The results for this age group were therefore excluded.

Even where results are given, the estimates of internet use for ethnic groups by region and by age are based on smaller sample sizes than the estimates for the UK population as a whole. For this reason, they are not reliable enough to draw firm conclusions.

The Office for National Statistics publishes the annual Internet access – households and individuals statistical bulletin, which provides more information than the Labour Force Survey on the range of activities carried out on the internet.

However, its estimates are less reliable because they are derived from the Opinion and Lifestyle Survey, which has a much smaller size than the Labour Force Survey. For this reason, you should avoid comparing the two.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of people aged 16 or older in the UK who are recent internet users.

Respondents are categorised as ‘recent’ if they have used the internet in the last 3 months.

Figures for the number of people using the internet recently are estimates (in thousands) based on the survey results and population estimates. The data comes from the Labour Force Survey.

The ethnic categories used in this data

Data for headline internet use by ethnicity only is broken down into 9 ethnic groups:

Asian:

  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Asian other

Black

Mixed

White

Other

Results for detailed ethnic groups is variable, therefore cannot be broken down by both detailed ethnic groups and another characteristic. Data for regional and age group analysis is categorised into the following 4 broad groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • White (including White ethnic minorities)
  • Other including Mixed

2. By ethnicity

Percentage and number of people aged 16 and over who had used the internet in the past 3 months, by ethnicity
Ethnicity % estimated number (thousands)
All 90.8 48,098
Bangladeshi 91.9 354
Chinese 98.6 265
Indian 90.4 1,077
Pakistani 91.1 767
Asian other 95.6 620
Black 92.8 1,376
Mixed 96.0 547
White 90.5 42,296
Other 94.5 796

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Internet use By ethnicity Summary

This data shows that:

  • 98.6% of Chinese people were recent internet users, the highest percentage of any ethnic group
  • 90.5% of people in the White ethnic group and 90.4% of Indian people were recent internet users, the lowest percentages of any ethnic group

3. By ethnicity and area

Percentage and number of people aged 16 and over who had used the internet in the past 3 months, by ethnicity and area
All Asian Black White Other inc Mixed
Geography All % All Number (thousands) Asian % Asian Number (thousands) Black % Black Number (thousands) White % White Number (thousands) Other inc Mixed % Other inc Mixed Number (thousands)
UK 90.8 48,098 92.4 3,083 92.8 1,376 90.5 42,296 95.1 1,343
North East 87.7 1,871 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 87.7 1,789 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
North West 90.0 5,198 89.9 295 97.6 92 89.8 4,694 94.6 117
Yorkshire and the Humber 89.8 3,908 89.0 225 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 89.6 3,542 97.8 94
East Midlands 89.9 3,439 88.3 215 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 89.9 3,092 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
West Midlands 88.7 4,125 86.8 424 96.1 170 88.4 3,419 94.5 112
East of England 92.0 4,552 95.1 186 100.0 80 91.6 4,204 98.8 82
London 93.0 6,571 94.7 1,118 88.9 701 93.3 4,195 93.3 557
South East 93.0 6,755 97.4 373 99.2 124 92.4 6,112 99.5 146
South West 92.3 4,165 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 92.0 4,014 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Wales 89.6 2,264 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 89.5 2,171 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Scotland 89.6 3,979 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 89.2 3,825 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Northern Ireland 86.7 1,271 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 86.5 1,239 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV)

Summary of Internet use By ethnicity and area Summary

This data shows that:

  • in London, recent internet use was broadly similar for Asian, White and Other ethnic groups, ranging from 93.3% to 94.7%, with a lower percentage of users in Black ethnic groups (88.9%)
  • Asian people in the South East were more likely than Asian people in West Midlands to have used the internet recently (97.4% compared to 86.8%)
  • for some ethnic groups, regions and countries (particularly Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the South West and the North East) the number of respondents was too low to draw firm conclusions

4. By ethnicity and age group

Percentage and number of people aged 16 and over who had used the internet in the past 3 months, by ethnicity and age group
All Asian Black White Other inc Mixed
Age Bracket All % All Number (thousands) Asian % Asian Number (thousands) Black % Black Number (thousands) White % White Number (thousands) Other inc Mixed % Other inc Mixed Number (thousands)
16-24 99.2 6,873 99.4 602 98.5 270 99.2 5,681 99.1 321
25-34 99.4 8,889 99.1 735 99.6 303 99.4 7,495 99.2 357
35-44 98.9 8,238 98.4 864 98.0 290 99.1 6,767 96.4 317
45-54 97.5 8,801 94.3 510 96.0 271 97.9 7,811 93.0 209
55-64 93.2 7,490 83.6 231 94.5 179 93.5 6,976 95.2 105
65-74 83.2 5,336 64.8 99 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 83.8 5,176 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
75+ 46.8 2,471 29.9 42 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 47.6 2,391 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and age group’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and age group’ (CSV)

Summary of Internet use By ethnicity and age group Summary

This data shows that:

  • within every ethnic group, at least 98.5% of people aged 16 to 24 years old were recent internet users

  • amongst adults aged between 16 and 34, the percentage of recent internet users was broadly the same across ethnic groups

  • Asian people were less likely to be recent internet users than other ethnic groups in the 55 to 64 age group (at 83.6%)

  • Asian people were also less likely to be recent internet users than White ethnic groups in the 65 to 74 and 75+ age groups (at 64.8% and 29.9%)

5. Methodology

The estimates are derived from the Labour Force Survey from the period January to March 2019, and are not seasonally adjusted.

The sample used for this data is made up of approximately 40,000 UK households and 100,000 individuals per quarter. The sampling frame used is the Postcode Address File and NHS communal accommodation.

Weighting

The Labour Force Survey uses calibration weighting. Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know has an even 50/50 split.

Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable. Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population. The weights here are formed using a population weighting procedure which involves weighting data to sub-regional population estimates and then adjusting for the estimated age and sex composition by region.

Estimation to population totals and projections are based on the 2011 Census.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Data was suppressed in groups with small sample sizes, because it is not possible to produce robust estimates with small sample sizes.

For example, in the 75+ age group in the Other including Mixed ethnic group, the sample size was only 20, which is too small to produce a reliable estimate. The results for this age group were therefore suppressed.

Statistical disclosure control methodology is applied to the Labour Force Survey data (the source for this data). This ensures that information attributable to an individual is not disclosed in any publication, and that confidentiality of respondents is protected in data sets.

As an example, the results for the 65 to 74 group in the Other including Mixed ethnic group were suppressed (it had a fairly small sample of 54). This was done to ensure that the results for the 75+ group in the Other including Mixed ethnic group could not be worked out by deduction.

The Code of Practice for Official Statistics, and specifically Principle 5, Confidentiality, sets out the principles for protecting data from being disclosed. The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 includes data confidentiality regulations which apply to Office of National Statistics (ONS). More information about disclosure control on data tables and data sets is available on the ONS website.

Rounding

We round numbers, and for this reason some figures may not add up.

Related publications

Internet Users, UK: 2019

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

Further quality and methodology information, user guides and example questionnaires can be accessed on the ONS website

6. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Office for National Statistics

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The primary purpose of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is to provide good quality estimates each month for various aspects of the labour market. The LFS also allows users to see how these labour market measures change over time. The LFS also collects data on internet use.

7. Download the data

Internet users in the UK - Spreadsheet (csv) 43 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, region, value, estimated number, confidence intervals (upper and lower bounds)