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‘Silver surfers’ lead surge in internet use

They spend more time online than youngsters


Man at computer

Internet use is increasing, with ‘silver surfers’ spending more time online than younger users, a report out today said.

Meanwhile the average time spent watching television and listening to the radio dipped over the past year.

Silver surfers aged 65 and over spend on average 42 hours a month online – more than any other group of internet users, communications regulator Ofcom said.

Around 16% of people in this age group use the internet, while the over-50s account for 30% of all time spent online by people in the UK.

Daily surge

The net saw a 158% surge in average daily usage between 2002 and 2006, while TV and radio dipped 4% and 2% respectively, according to Ofcom’s UK Communications Market 2007 report.

Average internet use across all age groups last year was 36 minutes per day,

TV viewing still greatly exceeded this at an average three hours 36 minutes per day – despite the 4% drop since 2002.

Radio listening dropped by 2% over the same period to two hours and 50 minutes per day on average.

A quarter of all UK internet users are aged 50 and over, according to Ofcom’s report.

Female friendly

The internet also seems to be growing more female-friendly, with women aged 25 to 49 accounting for more than half of time spent online by people in that age group.

On average 48% of people aged 12 and over use the internet, each spending an average 30.5 hours per month online.

The 18- to 24-year-olds have the highest proportion of internet users at 65%, spending on average 37.9 hours per month online.

Both the 12 to 17 and the 50 to 64 age groups have internet usage rates of 44%.

But the older age group spends on average 33.5 hours per month online, compared with 25 hours per month for the younger internet surfers.

The over-65s have the lowest internet usage rate at just 16% but people in this age group still clock up on average 42 hours per month online.

Advertising spend

Ofcom spokesman Peter Phillips said: ‘Use of the internet is now starting to eat into the time that people are spending using traditional media like TV and radio.’

That shift is reflected in a change in advertising spend with the figure for online adverts now outstripping that of ITV1 and Channel 4 combined, Ofcom said.

Internet advertising revenue surged by 47% from 2005 to 2006 to exceed £2 billion.

Television advertising revenue dropped from £4.82 billion in 2005 to £4.59 billion last year.

Radio advertising revenue dropped from £485 million to £437 million. Its share of UK advertising spend has dropped by more than 14% over the past five years.

Describing the shift away from radio advertising, Ofcom director of research James Thickett said: ‘We believe this is almost entirely driven by cannibalisation of advertisers going to the internet.’

Local radio

Local radio seems to be bearing the brunt of the decline in listeners.

The amount of time people spent listening to BBC local radio dropped by 7% in the past year while local commercial radio saw a 4% dip, Ofcom’s report says.

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