The Swedes and the Internet is an annual survey of the internet habits of Swedish people, how the use of the internet is developing and the digitalisation of society.
Now everyone uses the internet
The Swedes are an increasingly digitized people. In the survey, Swedes and the Internet, we are increasingly seeing up to 100 percent use of both the internet in general and different digital services. In this year’s survey, we are finding out that almost everyone uses the internet up to retirement age. Even in the oldest group, 76 years and up, more than half are internet users.
In the ages of 16-25, there is 100 percent use of smart phones, music via the internet, video online and use of chat services.
More and more have broadband via fiber at home, and the use of broadband-dependant services, such as watching movies and participating in video chats, has increased.
In this year’s survey, we have asked questions about people’s internet usage experiences – about concern and security, knowledge level and ability to evaluate content. Do the participants in the survey trust the content they see on the internet? In such a digitized society as Sweden, the ability to use technology in a knowledgeable and conscious way is becoming more important for young people, adults and the elderly.
At the same time, the survey gives a picture of how Swedes value their “digital competence”, a term used in both schools and in the government’s digitalization strategy.
A majority of the elderly are using the internet
As we have noted, almost everyone in Sweden has access to the internet in their home in 2017. Younger users use the network more often than the elderly, but this year our survey shows that for the first time a majority (56%) of our oldest age group, those 76 years and older, use the internet. Older people, however, do not use the internet daily as much as younger people. They also do not have the same habit of using the internet on their mobile phone daily as often as younger people – 21 percent of those who are 76 years and older, compared with 76 percent of the population.
The number of computers in households has been constant for a long time while tablets continue to grow. This year, there is an average of 1.2 tablets in Swedish households. Currently, 62 percent of households in Sweden have a computer, as well as a smart phone and tablet.
Broadband via fiber is becoming more common. This year’s survey is the first where more than half of households (51%) are connected to the internet via fiber. The most common way of using the internet daily, however, is via mobile phone.
Eight out of ten two-year olds use the internet
Children’s use of the internet continues to grow. Already at two years of age, a large majority use the internet, 79 percent. Above all, they watch TV and video, but it is also popular to play games and use educational apps. By six years of age, 98 percent use the internet.
The youngest mostly use tablets to reach the internet, 81 percent of 2-3 year olds, with a borrowed mobile phone in second place. It is first around the ages of 10-11 years old, when virtually all children have their own mobile phones, that internet over the phone is used more than the tablet.
When the children enter school age, it becomes common to use the internet both to seek information and as a part of school work. Already at eight years of age, a majority of children search for information on the internet. By nine years old, a majority uses the internet in school work.
Most people read work mail during vacation
Access to the internet at work continues to increase from already high levels and now stands at 93 percent. Young people, however, use the internet at work to a lesser degree than older (65 percent of the 16-25 year olds). The degree of education correlates strongly with using the internet at work.
In some professions, such as finance, IT and communication, internet usage is almost 100 percent, while it is less common in the hotel/restaurant and transportation industry.
The internet makes the workplace and the home, as well as working time and leisure time fuse together. For example, it is common to use the internet to work from home. (64 percent do this at least sometimes.) Most, but not all who do it can therefore spend less time at their workplace. Other examples of how work life and leisure time join together is that the majority of those who work (51%) now read email during their vacation and four out of five (82%) use the internet for private purposes at their workplace.
Facebook is the biggest, but now more than half use Instagram
The most common communication service on the internet is also the oldest: email (97%). Other services, however, are challenging that. To send and receive direct messages is greatly increasing. This year, almost every other person sent direct messages every day.
Many more than before also use the internet for telephone calls. Video chat has also greatly increased in this year’s survey.
The number of people using the largest social network, Facebook, is increasing. But we see that the youngest target group, 12-15 years, have not started using Facebook to the same extent as before. Therefore, the usage in the age group has decreased significantly this year, from 67 percent to 54 percent. The most common activity among those who use Facebook is to send messages via Facebook Messenger.
In this year’s survey, we see for the first time that a majority of all internet users use Instagram, the second most common social network. It is big among young people, especially girls. Almost every 12-15-year-old girl, 97 percent, uses Instagram.
Snapchat is greatly increasing in this year’s survey and is a service used by a large majority of both men and women up to 25 years of age. After that, use falls quickly with increasing age.
Virtually everyone under 25 uses YouTube
Both watching moving images and listening to content on the internet is becoming more common. When it comes to viewing, YouTube is the most common service. Virtually all young people under 25 use YouTube, a large majority of them daily.
Viewing has also increased in TV channel play services and on Netflix. 77 percent use play services and 46 percent use Netflix.
When it comes to listening to content, radio, podcasts and music are growing. Two-thirds of those who listen to music do it on Spotify.
Fewer people than before use file sharing services every month. More are also paying for music and film than before.
Younger people are more skeptical about information than older people
Internet users search for all kinds of information from timetables, news and public information to health and housing. Most people find it easy to find the right search word when they use search services, although the youngest and the oldest age groups have a more difficult time.
Younger people look at information on the internet more skeptically than older people, who, to a greater extent, think that most of what they take part in on the internet is reliable. Young people also have received training in evaluating information on the internet to a greater extent.
Nine out of ten shop online
Internet banking, mobile Bank ID and Swish are three services that a large part of the population use. Almost everyone uses internet banking. Many also use mobile Bank ID to identify themselves on the internet and the use has increased each year. The payment app Swish is used by 71 percent of internet users.
E-commerce is a well-established way to buy goods for nine out of ten Swedes. Almost all internet users between 26 and 55 have bought things via the internet that have been delivered by mail. Among those over 76, there is also a majority that shop online. It is also just as common to shop for things online as to use the internet to compare prices for a purchase.
Eight out of ten young men watch sexual content online
Virtually all young boys, 98 percent, play games on the internet. With age, the gaming decreases but in middle age among women and men, as well as among older people, it is more common for women to play online games than men.
A large majority of young men look at sites with sexual content on the internet (79% of men 16-25 years old). But as they get older, fewer use the internet to watch sexual content.
Young people use online dating to a larger extent than older people, with almost a third of 16-25 year olds. 15 percent say network dating has led to cohabitation or marriage.
School children state that they have learned about source criticism
The older children become, the more important the internet becomes, both for private use and in school. It is especially important for studies for older students. High school students even state that the internet is more important for study than for private use.
Already in middle school years, a majority of children state that they have learned about internet source evaluation. In high school, more than four-fifths state that they have acquired that knowledge.
Low educated, unemployed and those with health problems are less involved in the information society
Digital competence and digital participation are important questions for both government and school. These are also important factors for assessing how the network actually reaches out to everyone. Low educated, unemployed and those with health problems feel less involved in the information society than people with a higher education. These groups find it more difficult, for example, to search for information on the internet.