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Second BBVA Foundation study on the Internet in Spain

13.05.2008
The BBVA Foundation presents the results of its “Second Study on the Internet in Spain” based on a wide-ranging survey into how Internet is being used, its impact on different areas of life and what users see as its main strengths and critical areas.

It also looks at barriers to access, and the possibilities of future take-up among today’s non users. The BBVA Foundation completed a first round of the study in 2005. Hence the data in this edition provide not just a "snapshot” of Internet use but also a picture of how it has developed over time.

The information in this study was obtained by surveying a representative sample of the Spanish population aged 14 and over, with a sample size of 6,013. The survey's design and analysis were the work of the Social Studies Unit of the BBVA Foundation.

GROWTH OF INTERNET USE IN SPAIN
Internet is increasingly present in Spanish households; up from 31% in 2005 to 41% in 2008. A clear majority of users have broadband access, particularly ADSL, which has grown from 61% in 2005 to 71% in 2008. Given the high penetration of this connection modality, it is no surprise that the usual payment format is a 24-hour flat rate (88%). In the present study, the universe of Internet users is defined as those having accessed the Internet in the past three months, equating to 44% of Spaniards at the start of 2008 compared to 37% in 2005.

The sociodemographic profile of Internet users differs clearly from the population average: they are predominantly male (53%), young (59% aged under 36), more educated (75% with upper secondary or higher education studies) and of middle (47%) to upper middle (34%) socioeconomic status. Non users, in contrast, are more typically female (54%), aged 51 or over (59%), educated to lower secondary level only (78%), and of lower middle or low socioeconomic status (49%).

Among developments of note since 2005 is the growing incorporation of segments traditionally more distanced from this technology. Hence the increase found in the relative weight of the 26 to 35 and 36 to 50 age groups and that of the middle-middle socioeconomic class. Nonetheless, marked differences persist in the Internet use of population groups, and we can still observe a large digital gap determined by age and socioeconomic status.

MAP OF INTERNET USE
Spanish users are particularly assiduous: over half (51%) connect to the Internet every day and over 90% do so at least once a week. Connection time varies widely, with 37% reporting 6 hours a week or less, 17% between 7 and 10 hours and 30% more than 10 hours. The average Internet connection time among the total user base was 10 and a half hours per week.

A majority (76%) of users access the Internet from their homes, a percentage 10 points higher than in 2005. Meantime, a third say they access from their workplace, and approximately 15% from public terminals and education centers. Information search, for personal or professional reasons, and e-mail communication are the main motives for using the net.

Internet is first and foremost a communication resource: e-mail was the service most used by internauts in the previous three months (88%). A significant percentage of users cite instant messaging (47%), and participation in chats (30%), while a smaller proportion offer purposes like consulting blogs or talking by phone. It is also very much an information resource: a large majority of users (82%) engage in information searches and almost half (47%) read news items or the online press. And more and more, an entertainment resource: a high percentage of users download music (53%) or films and videos (44%), with a smaller number tuning in to radio or TV stations (24%) or playing online games (21%).

For some users, though fewer in number, the Internet is also a transactional or administrative resource. Specifically, 24.5% report having made some banking transaction online, an increase of 4 points with respect to 2005 (20.5%). The profile of the Internet banking user is predominantly male, aged between 26 and 50 and of socioeconomic status in the upper middle to high range.

Twelve percent of the group banking online hold accounts at an Internet-only bank. The checking of account balances and latest movements is the most popular service (94%), followed by the ordering of transfers (63%), and the payment of tax and other bills (46%). The reasons most frequently stated for using online banking services are being able to perform a transaction any time of day (59%) and the time saving factor (23%).

Meantime, 23% of Internet users had made some online purchase and 20% had concluded some kind of official transaction. For shoppers, goods and services related to travel were the most sought after items; firstly tickets (59%), followed by hotels/accommodation (26%) and organized holidays (22%).

The drawbacks mentioned to Internet use are many and varied. At the head come problems of IT security (mean of 7.1 on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means it is no problem at all and 10 that it is a very important problem), too many pages with illegal contents (7.0) and too much advertising (6.9). Data confidentiality and the receipt of unsolicited mail are also identified as problems by a majority of users, along with other issues that have more to do with network and provider quality (speed, unreliable connections, the cost of ISP and telephone services, with mean scores of close to 6 points on the above perceptions scale).

Users also appear to take for granted the fact that Internet is free of charge. Access to pay-for-use content is still confined to a very small number of consumers. And this limited experience of accessing pay content goes hand in hand with a very limited willingness to do so in future.

IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON PRIVATE LIFE AND THE USE OF TIME
Users are generally enthusiastic about the benefits brought by the Internet in terms of time saving and improvements in their level of information and personal relations. In a context of intensive use of the web as an information and communication resource, a majority state that since using Internet, they feel better informed and have more contact with others.

Although most say there have been no changes in the way they divide their time since using the Internet, a sizeable percentage refer to spending less time on other matters. Specifically, a significant number say using the net has reduced the time they devote to watching television (27%), to going to the cinema (18%) and to reading in general or the reading of print newspapers (21% and 18% respectively). Finally, users admit to spending less time on work since they started with Internet.

The time Internet use takes away from other activities has grown significantly since the 2005 survey, with a higher percentage citing a decrease in the hours spent watching television, reading or practicing sport.

Javier Fernández | alfa
Further information:
http://www.fbbva.es/TLFU/tlfu/ing/comunica/notas/fichanota/index.jsp?codigo=370

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