London: More than half of British internet users go online without enthusiasm, a new Oxford study has found.
The number of people in Britain who are using the internet has risen, reaching 78 percent of the population aged 14 years and over as compared with 59 percent in 2003.
Yet according to the latest survey of British internet use and attitudes, conducted by the University`s Oxford Internet Institute (OII), more than half of those who go online do it without enthusiasm.
Nearly one in six (14 per cent) users felt the internet was taking over their lives and invading their privacy. An additional one-third (37 per cent) of users had no strong feelings either for or against the internet and were described as `moderate` in their view.
Some 17 per cent said it made them more efficient; 12 per cent said they were happy going online; and 19 per cent had mixed views, feeling efficient and happier but also frustrated, according to the report.
The report, published by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), is based on face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 2,000 internet users in Britain.
One noteworthy trend highlighted in the report is a levelling off in the popularity of social networking sites, with nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of internet users surveyed saying they used them - an increase of only one percentage point from 2011 after explosive growth between 2007 and 2011.
While most users of social network sites are under 35, there has been a substantial rise in the proportion of users aged 45-54 years old using such sites from 10 per cent in 2007 to 51 per cent in 2013, researchers said.
People who are retired are much less likely to use them than employed people or students. Privacy has been a frequent concern on these sites, with 90 per cent of student users saying they checked their settings, contrary to the commonly expressed view that young people no longer care about privacy.
The digital divide in Britain continues to narrow, suggests the report, with the number of people who have never gone online falling from 23 percent in 2011 to 18 per cent in 2013.
Trends in household use parallel individual use, with 81 per cent of households in Britain now online as compared with 74 per cent in 2011.
The rise in the number of individuals having access to the internet is due to households acquiring it for the first time, rather than more people going online in households that already have access, the research suggests.
However, television sets remain the focal point of households in Britain. Virtually all households have a TV set in 2013 whereas one-quarter (24 percent) of them still do not have a computer.
The survey suggests that internet use increased modestly across all age groups. The gender divide is now almost non-existent as compared with 2003 when 64 percent of men and 55 percent of women said they used the internet.