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How is lockdown affecting internet usage?

Man lounging on phone

How is lockdown affecting internet usage?

Even without the effects of COVID-19, new records for internet usage during 2020 are to be expected due to the web becoming available to, and embraced by, more people every year. Nevertheless, stats point towards lockdown conditions leading more and more of us to head online.

A clear example of this came last Thursday, on the first day of England’s second lockdown, when telecommunications giant TalkTalk reported a peak data consumption of 6.46 terabytes per second at 9:10pm – the highest figure since the UEFA Champions League Final on August 23.

UK internet users may have been glued to the drama of the US election or looking for virtual alternatives to Bonfire Night, but more likely they simply wanted to find a different way to amuse themselves now that they couldn’t go to pubs, restaurants or cinemas, and turned to streaming services, social media and online shopping.

Ofcom stats reveal a similar picture during the first period of lockdown in the UK, with the data revealing we spent a quarter of the time we were awake online during April, whether browsing the internet, working from home or watching entertainment.

The revelation that people are spending more time on the internet at a time when they are confined to their houses is hardly a remarkable one, but what may be less anticipated is that habits may not return to how they were before. Studies in the US have noted new demographics turning to online grocery delivery, such as people aged 55-75, which analysts predict will be a permanent change.

It’s long been a myth that elderly people don’t use the internet. Way back in 2016, we blogged on how well over a third of over-75s were regular internet users, and that figure rose to nearly three quarters among those in the 65-74 age group. The days of “my customers don’t use the internet” are long gone, and the accelerated shift in online buying will make it all the more important not to miss out.

With hope of a COVID-19 vaccine being developed and whispers from the scientific community of a return to normality by next spring, make sure you’re ready for the increased role an online presence is sure to play in our day-to-day lives. With search engine optimisation and web design being long-term strategies, now’s the time to speak to the Engage Web team.

John Murray

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