The Swedes and the internet 2014

An annual study of the Swedish people's internet habits

5. Information and facts

Today, the internet has become the most important information source for those who use the internet. In 2012, the internet shared the same spot as television, but today the internet has passed this and has on average 3.9 points on a scale where 1 the medium is not important at all and 5 means that it is very important as an information source. TV on average has 3.6 and personal contacts are judged to be the most important (4.2).

Diagram 5.1. Average assessment in the population of the importance of different media as a source of information on a five point scale. Show as table Download

As a news source, however, television was still the most important in 2013 with an average of 3.6 against the internet’s 3.4. To be a source of information is a broader concept and includes much more than the news.

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Diagram 5.2. Average assessment of the importance of different media as a source of information on a five point scale in different age groups in the population. Show as table Download

Internet is the most important source of information

Thus, the internet is the main source of information today, but, as is the case when it comes to entertainment, there is a very clear dividing line between the young and the old with the middle age in between. For those up to 45 years old, the internet has the dominant position as a source of information while the internet plays only a modest role for pensioners. Here, traditional media, TV, radio and newspapers are the most important. In between, in the ages of 46 to 65, all media, including the internet, is equally as important. All ages, except for those over 66 years old, assessed personal contacts to be the most important.

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Diagram 5.3. Number of internet users (12+ years) who sometimes, weekly or daily do different things on the internet. Show as table Download

Search for facts or look up words

Among both school children and pensioners, the internet is the most utilized in searching for facts (90%) and for looking up words (85%). Everyone does this at least once in a while, even among pensioners. Many, also in the older ages, use the internet to look up addresses and timetables. Using the internet to get information about a hobby or a special interest, to take part in culture, science and literature, to look up information about traveling, about health information and public information is something that is done by internet users of all ages. However, the elderly mostly utilize the internet to look for information and facts.

In some cases, such as using the internet to take part in political information, visit online communities and forums in connection with special interests and to use the internet to compare prices it is mostly those in the ages of 16 to 35, respective 16 to 45 (comparing prices) who are active.

Looking at all internet users it is not so many that use the internet to look for work, participate in distance studies or seek information about school work, but we see that 94 percent of unemployed have used the internet at least once to search for a job, 86 percent at some time once a week and 49 percent daily.

 

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School and education

Among students, 98 percent use the internet for schoolwork, 79 percent once a week and 35 percent daily. The internet thus plays a large role and this applies especially for adult students. Half (59%) of older students (26-35) use the internet daily to retrieve information about school work, 43 percent in the ages of 16-25 and 23 percent of school children between the ages of 12 to 15. (See more about the internet and school in the chapter about children and youth.) Using the internet for distance education is not as common in Sweden as in other countries such as New Zealand and Australia. But among students, 18 percent in the ages of 16-25 and 31 percent in the ages of 26-35 have at least once taken part in distance education via the internet.

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Do age and education have any impact on who uses the internet for information and facts?

As stated earlier, the difference between how the young and old use the internet to look up information is not as large as when it comes to entertainment and participating in social networks. Age does not have a large effect. There are differences but many elderly are active at seeing information and facts on the internet. But does education play a role? Is it mainly the already well educated who are utilizing the internet?

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Diagram 5.4. Number of internet users with different education in different age groups who look up words on the internet every week. Show as table Download

Looking up words

Does education make a difference in how often one uses the internet to look up words? Yes, to some extent, but the differences between educated groups are small and mostly in the middle ages (46-65).

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Diagram 5.5. Number of internet users with different education in different age groups who search and check facts on the internet every week. Show as table Download

Finding and checking facts

When it comes to searching for information and checking facts, there is a difference between educated groups among the younger and among the middle-aged and the older. Here, the highly educated most often use the internet for information and fact-finding.

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Culture, science and literature

Two out of three (69%) use the internet for culture, science and literature. There is a difference among the young based on education but it increases for those over 45 years old. Among the middle-aged and the elderly, it is three times more likely that those with a higher education, compared to those who have not graduated, use the internet for culture, science and literature.

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Reading the news

Reading the news on the internet is popular in all ages and in the ages of 45-65, they read the same regardless of education. In contrast, education plays a role for newspaper reading among the oldest over 65 and among the youngest (20-45). Significantly more of the young with a university degree read the paper on the internet compared to those with less education.

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Diagram 5.6. Number of internet users with different education in different age groups who take part in health and medical information on the internet. Show as table Download

Health and medical information

There are large differences between age groups and education levels in how one takes part in information about health and medical questions on the internet. Most of the young and highly educated (82%) take part in this information sometimes, but among older and lower educated, it is more rare. Women are also more interested in the information than men. The most interested in health information are young, well-educated women (94%).

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Summary

Does education make a difference?
Looking up words
Little difference except for in the middle-aged.
Searching for facts Yes, in all age groups
Culture, science A little for the young, a big difference for those older than 45.
Reading news No for middle-aged. Yes for those younger than 45 and older than 65.
 Health information Large difference in all ages.

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