Ofcom today published their Online Nation report looking at what people in the UK are doing online, including recent data during the coronavirus pandemic.

Most findings aren’t particularly surprising, but the scale of growth of services like TikTok and Houseparty stands out. TikTok increased its reach among adults in the UK from 5.4 million to 12.9 million between January and April 2020, while Houseparty increased from 175,000 to 4 million.

Mobile devices continue to drive growth of internet usage, with 81% of measured time spent online on a mobile or tablet device, whilst only 4% of people rely on a computer or laptop to get online.

The time spent online by adult internet users in the UK now outstrips the time spent watching TV on a TV set by 10 minutes each day, reaching 3 hours 29 minutes online, but still more than one in ten adults do not use the internet.

In September 2019, Comscore data showed that more than a third of all measured time online was spent on Google and Facebook-owned sites, up to 39% in September 2019 from 37% in September 2018). This is especially concerning considering that the study showed that only about half of the population were aware that the main source of funding for these sites is advertising.

Commenting on the report findings, Adrian Baschnonga, Global Lead Telecommunications Analyst, EY, commented:
“The rise in digital activities in the home is also accompanied by anxieties and concerns. 52% of households are concerned about phishing emails that exploit the Coronavirus situation, while more than three in ten households are more cautious than before about disclosing personal and financial information online. And while video calling has gone mainstream, 31% of households worry about their calls being hacked. Less than half of households currently feel in control of their online personal data, and the lockdown period is exacerbating this concern.”

Whilst Luca Collacciani from cloud delivery platform Akamai Technologies said:

“The findings by Ofcom show the pre-lockdown fears that the Internet would not be able to cope with millions working from home and streaming levels shooting up were unfounded. As we start to come out of lockdown though, the current crisis will actually prove a good stead for what’s to come. With the widespread proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices continuing to grow and the creation of smart cities in the future, the Internet will continue to be placed under pressure by increasing amounts of data. However, the UK’s robust infrastructure means its companies and citizens are in a good place to take advantage in the future.”

The summary of the Online Nation report is available here.