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Many Swedes 'uninvolved' in information society: survey

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Many Swedes 'uninvolved' in information society: survey
14:39 CEST+02:00
One in two Swedes feel the information society is passing them by despite the country having one of the world's highest rates of internet usage, a new study has showed.

In 2010, Sweden ranked at the top of three global IT indices, all trying to rank the preparedness and potential of different countries in becoming a successful information technology country.

Nevertheless, 15 years after the introduction of the internet, half of the population still does not feel engaged with the new information society, according to the "Swedes and the Internet 2010" report, compiled by Sweden's Internet Infrastructure Foundation (.SE).

"You would assume with the growth of social media that people would feel more integrated, but less people feel comfortable," Janne Elvelid, a project leader at .SE, explained to The Local.

"If you're not on Facebook or other social networking sites, that's a big extra step. It's not enough to be an internet user. There are more steps to take to feel integrated. "

Eighty percent do not use mobile internet, while half do not use the internet to obtain health information. One-third do not use the internet to pay their bills.

When asked why they do not use the internet, the most common response is that they are not interested in new devices and services. About 1 million of the non-internet users are over 65, but there are tens of thousands who are in younger age groups.

Those who use mobile internet are reading more news online (64 percent from 42 percent in 2009), reading and sending more email (52 percent from 20 percent), visiting more social networking websites (42 percent from 9 percent) and watching more television and video programming on their mobile devices (32 percent from 7 percent).

Elvelid singled out two reasons why mobile broadband use remained low.

"If you look at the phones that are sold, most are touchscreen smartphones with bigger screens. But among the general population, not that many people own a smartphone compared with a traditional phone. The business model among operators also remains expensive even if the data plans are not expensive," he said.

Still, use of the internet is widespread in Sweden, with 81 percent of the population surfing the internet daily, including preschool children, who mostly play games and watch videos online.

Time spent online also increased last year by 15 percent to 11.3 hours a week. In addition, 97 percent of Swedish internet users have broadband access, or 84 percent of the population.

Eighty-five percent of Swedes over 16 have internet access at home, a two percent increase since 2009. However, internet saturation remains well off, with Elvelid estimating that it will take some time for it to reach 95 percent.

A total of 1.5 million Swedes comment regularly on what others write online and an equal number update their status on a daily basis on social networking sites. Half a million Swedes upload photos online every week.

Meanwhile, the pace of file sharing has fallen after a gradual increase over the last 10 years. The number of file sharers stopped growing last year and decreased slightly to the same levels slightly higher than those in 2008.

Half of Sweden's internet users sometimes watch television while they are online. One in three do it daily or several times a week, particularly young girls.

New internet users are found in all age groups, but those born in the 1940s and 1990s dominate growth rates. The oldest play a minor role among new internet users.

Over the past 10 years, the age of initiation on the internet has gradually declined, stalling at the age of four in 2009, a 50-percent drop from just four years earlier.

Almost all young people in developed industrialised countries use the internet. However, on the other side of the user demographic, internet use among retirees is only common in countries such as Sweden, other Nordic countries and the US.

The proportion of internet users over 45 who visit social networks has more than doubled. Slightly older internet users who have demonstrated an interest in participating in social networks has also increased. In the last year, the increase has been dramatic.

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