Who’s online? Latest figures for NZ

To abbreviate things a bit, the 2010 New Zealand World Internet Project (WIP) report shows that more New Zealanders are online, for longer and at faster speeds.

These trends led the researchers to conclude the ‘digital divide’ is disappearing in New Zealand, with differences in who uses the Internet shrinking by the year. The notion of “Digital Differentiation” is put forward instead – it’s not just a matter of being connected or not, but how much people use the Internet and what for.

While the number of people who can access the internet is growing, a wide gulf separates those who rated their ability to use the Internet at a high level and those with low ability. This gulf maps onto a high versus low income divide. It’s a reminder the ‘digital divide’ is as much about confidence and content, as it is connectivity.

The rise and rise of participation in social networking websites is also evident. Facebook is the dominant platform for those over 20 years old, and with an increasing proportion of older age groups belonging to social networks (as high as 44% of all users in the 40s use social networks).

Other key findings include:

  • The number of Internet users rose from 79% in 2007 to 83% in 2009.
  • Broadband usage jumped to 82% compared with 67% in 2007. Conversely, dial-up access decreased.
  • The proportion of people accessing the Internet via mobile phones more than doubled from 7% in 2007 to 18% in 2009.
  • Nearly half of all users are members of social networking sites and three quarters of these report that Facebook is the site they use most often.

AUT ran the first WIP survey of internet usage in 2007 and with the second round of surveying conducted late last year.  About half of the questions are shared with surveys conducted in other countries. The next international comparative report will be released in early 2011.

Also released this month is the second Survey of Community and Voluntary Organisations’ Use of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) report. Run by the Waikato Management School, findings from a survey of 757 community groups conducted in November 2008. It follows an earlier survey conducted in 2005.

Broadly speaking groups are using the internet more, with a faster connection and feeling more confident doing so. The area of highest and growing need is assistance with website enhancement: 61.1% overall said they would find this helpful in 2008 compared with 53% overall in 2005. There has been a slight drop in access to high or very high levels of technical support available.

Next month Statistics New Zealand household ICT usage statistics will be released. The results are from a sample of approximately 16,000 households, compared with the 1,250 people surveyed through the WIP research. Figures will update those released in 2006.