Information Society Statistics – Households 2020

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COVID-19 changes how we use the internet
  • Use of educational websites or portals for communicating with instructors/students increased to 21% from 14% in 2019
  • Use of internet telephoning/video calls (Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Viber, etc.) surged to 73% among internet users compared to 48% of users who carried out this form of digital communications in 2019
  • Nearly seven in every ten (68%) internet users watched video content from sharing services (YouTube, TikTok, etc), while 55% watched video on demand (Netflix, Disney+, HBO GO, Amazon Prime, etc.), and half of internet users were watching internet streamed TV (live or catch up from TV broadcasters)
  • Two-thirds (66%) of internet users reported seeking health-related information online, while more than half (53%) used the internet for obtaining information from the websites or apps of Public Authorities or Public Services, an increase of three percentage points on 2019
  • In 2020, almost three in ten (29%) daily internet users use the internet ‘all the time’ or ‘nearly all the time’
  • One-third (33%) of internet users made purchases online of ready-made food delivered from restaurants, fast food chains, catering delivery services, etc., while 17% bought food or drink from shops or meal-kit providers online

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (26 November 2020) published the results of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Household Survey which was carried out in Quarters 1 and 2, 2020. This survey was collected during the pre-pandemic period and during the initial set of COVID-19 restrictions.

Commenting on the report, Maureen Delamere, Statistician said:

Irish life has changed following the introduction in March of measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic, with many workplaces closed, and schools and colleges closed from mid-March until the end of the academic year. This has affected how people use the internet and their lives have become a lot more virtual as a result.

With all but essential retail closed during the lockdown period from March until the end of June, the changes impacted how people did their shopping and what they bought. More than six in ten (63%) internet users bought clothes (includes sports clothing), shoes or accessories, such as bags, jewellery etc online, while nearly one quarter (24%) bought sports goods such as sports gear and equipment online. One-third (33%) of internet users purchased online ready-made food delivered from restaurants, fast food chains, catering delivery services etc., while 17% bought food or drink from shops or meal-kit providers online. One in seven (15%) internet users made online purchases of cleaning products or personal hygiene products (includes toothbrushes, washing detergents, etc.) while 9% bought medicine or dietary supplements.

Similarly, home schooling and remote working from home had an effect on the internet usage of individuals. Email is now the most popular activity carried out on the internet – 86% of internet users surveyed in 2020 used email, an increase of two percentage points on 2019. With an increase in the number of persons remote working from home or home schooling, and meetings taking place by phone where possible, there has also been an increase in the use of internet telephoning/video calls (such as Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Viber, etc.). More than seven in ten (73%) of internet users carried out this internet activity in 2020, compared with 48% of internet users using this form of communication in 2019. Use of educational websites or portals for communicating with instructors/students increased by seven percentage points in 2020 – 21% compared with 14% in 2019 (please note that some of the data collection for this survey occurred in pre-pandemic times).

People’s use of e-Government services also increased during this time, with 53% of internet users in 2020 obtaining information from the websites or apps of Public Authorities or Public Services websites or apps in 2020, up from 50% in 2019.

Seeking health-related information online increased on 2019 levels also – 66% of internet users compared with 63% in 2019. One in six (16%) internet users used the internet for making an appointment with a practitioner, while one in twelve (8%) reported Using other health services (via a website or app, instead of visiting a doctor).’

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