Last month (April 2016), Ofcom produced its annual Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report for the UK. This research report looks at “media use, attitudes and understanding, and how these change over time, with a particular focus on those groups that tend not to participate digitally. The report covers TV, radio, mobile, games, and the internet, with a particular focus on the latter.”
For libraries, there are a number of salient points, some of which I have picked out here (my bold emphasis). The summary pages at the beginning of the report are useful to read if you are pressed for time or less interested in some areas of the report.
- Just over one in ten (13%) do not use the internet at all, which rises to 65% of those aged 75+, and 33% of 65-74s and 42% are in DE households.
- A third of internet users have never completed any government processes online; 16-24s, 65-74s, over-75s and DEs are less likely to access public or civic services online.
- There has been a sizeable increase in the proportion of internet users saying they only use websites or apps that they’ve used before (42% vs 31% in 2014).
- Search engines are the only online source that a majority of internet users consider to be ‘very important’ for finding information.
- Half of search engine users (51%) were unable to correctly identify adverts or sponsored links in a results page of a search engine; this was more common among over-65s and those in DE households.
- Although six in ten (62%) say that, on a results page, some of the websites listed will be accurate and unbiased and some won’t be, 18% think that if a website has been listed by a search engine it must be accurate and unbiased. A further 12% say they have not thought about this, and 8% say they do not know. Those aged 25-34 are most likely to give an incorrect response to this question.
- Just over one in ten (12%) say that they ‘don’t really think about whether to trust a site, and just use those they like the look of’.
- There has been a considerable rise (from 6% in 2014 to 16% in 2015) in the proportion of adults who only use smartphones or tablets to go online, and not a PC/laptop.
- There is increasing polarity between different age groups in terms of communications activity.
Library staff in all sectors can, and do, help to improve digital literacy skills of people who they come across (in the library) – the next area to tackle may be how to reach those who don’t come to the library, and who stick only to the websites or apps they already know, and who fully trust search engines.