Are you Adigital or e-mersed?

Likely you’re somewhere inbetween as these are the two extreme categories of GB internet users today according to the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) who have just published their Cultures of the Internet: The Internet in Britain – Oxford Internet Survey* 2013 Report.

We’ve sort of, flipped their graph around to start with the technophobes and end with the addicted! We’ve also pluralised cyber-savvies which as a term, rather than a culture, is our favourite!

Completing the picture their full 5 categories are:

  • Adigitals: This final (or our first) group does not feel that the Internet makes them more efficient, nor do they enjoy being online simply to pass the time or escape from the real world. To members of this culture, the Internet is likely to be perceived as out of their control, potentially controlled by others. For example, they feel frustrated because the Internet is difficult to use and harbours too much ‘immoral material’. Compared to the other cultures, the adigital group appears to resonate mostly with the problems generated by the Internet. They feel more excluded from a technological context that is ‘not made for them’. This adigital culture fits about 14% of the UK’s online population.
  • Cyber-moderates: The fourth (or our second) cluster of users is most clearly defined by patterns of attitudes and beliefs that show them to be more moderate in their view of the Internet as a good place to pass the time, an efficient way to find information or shop, or a good way to maintain and enhance their social relationships. On the other hand, they are also not uniformly fearful that there is a risk that the Internet will expose them to immoral material, pose a threat to their privacy, or waste their time. They seem to be moderate in both hopes and fears, thus we have called them ‘cyber-moderates’. They are the largest single cluster of Internet users in Britain, accounting for 37% of users.
  • Cyber-savvies: A third cluster of users expressed mixed feelings and beliefs about the Internet, holding somewhat ambivalent views. On the one hand, they enjoy being online, in order to pass time, easily find information, and become part of a community in which they can escape and meet people. On the other hand, they also feel as if the Internet is, to a greater or lesser degree, taking control of their lives, because it can be frustrating, wastes time and invades their privacy. Rather than always feeling in control, they feel that they might lose control to technology, which could drain them of time and privacy. Despite their concerns, theyfully exploit the Internet as a pastime, as an efficient information resource, and as a social tool. For this reason, they are in some sense street wise, or cybersavvy, living comfortably in an Internet world but aware of the risks. They represent nearly one in five (19%) of the UK’s Internet users.
  • Techno-pragmatists: This cluster of users stands out by the centrality they accord to using the Internet to save time and make their lives easier. Like the e-mersives, they feel in control of the Internet, employing it for instrumental reasons that enhance the efficiency of their day-to-day life and work. Unlike the e-mersives, the pragmatists do not view the Internet as an escape, nor do they often go online just for the fun of it. Theirs is a more instrumental agenda of efficiency. Pragmatists constitute about 17% of the UK’s Internet users.
  • e-Mersives: This group of users is comfortable and naturally at home in the online world and happy being online. They are pleased to use the Internet as an escape, to pass time online, and think of it as somewhere they feel they can meet people and be part of a community. They see the Internet as a technology they can control—a tool they can employ—to make their life easier, to save time, and to keep in touch with people. They are immersed in the Internet as part of their everyday life and work. They comprise only about 12% of the UK’s Internet users.

Our selection of some interesting findings / comments:

  • The number of homes with no computer has declined from 30% in 2003 to in 24% 2013. On the other hand the number with 3 or more computers has increased from 5% to 18%.
  • Homes with 3 or more television sets stands at 32% in 2013. Only 1% have none
  • All households have a mobile phone (well 91%)!
  • Other devices in households in 2013 – Tablet (37%) Reader (27%) Internet TV (22%)
  • Of the 2,083 Internet users in the OxIS 2013 sample, only 34 own a tablet but not a PC. This illustrates how tablets seem to be complementing rather than replacing PCs in the UK.
  • Mobile Internet use has had the most dramatic increase. … in 2013 half of the population (or 67% of Internet users) went online using multiple devices and locations.
  • … the adigitals are the most supportive of greater regulation of the Internet, with e-mersives being the least supportive. However, techno-pragmatists, who use the Internet to get things done, and who are less often using the Internet for entertainment and social purposes, are also somewhat more supportive of more government regulation of the Internet, even though a majority still believe that government should not be regulating the Internet more than at present.
  • …a notable fact about these cultures is the diversity they expose among Internet users in Britain. They show that the Internet is not inhabited by groups of enthusiasts or by Luddites. There is a wide spectrum of viewpoints on the value of the Internet and also the risks.
  • A majority of us have always and continue to rate our internet skills as being good or excellent!

Much more besides in a thought provoking report. Our only real criticism is our dislike of most of the shortform descriptors of the cultures, apart of course from the cyber savvies!

*The OxIS 2013 survey is the sixth in a series, with previous surveys conducted in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. Each has used a multi-stage national probability sample of 2000 people in Britain, enabling us to project estimates to Britain as a whole. In 2013 we received funding from dot.rural for an additional 600 rural respondents, so the total sample is 2,657. Sampling details are in the methodological appendix.


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