Ofcom, the regulator for the communications services, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have published a joint study indicating that people in the UK are increasingly worried about being online. Their report, titled Online Nation, covers research into how people are served by websites, online content, streaming services and their attitudes towards being online. The publication of this report follows that of the Government’s Online Harms White Paper, setting out plans for a package of online safety measures.
Key findings of the Online Nation report include:
- People’s online time is growing by around 7% annually, with the average UK adult spending 3 hours 15 minutes per day online last year;
- the proportion of adults concerned about using the internet has risen since last year, from 59% to 78%;
- 61% of adults have had a potentially harmful online experience in the past year with the figure rises to 79% among children aged 12-15;
- 59% of adults agree that the benefits of going online outweigh the risks, and 61% of children think that the internet makes their lives better;
- only 40% of adults agree that websites and social media sites provide the tools needed to keep them safe online, although this rises to 55% of children; and
- support for greater online regulation appears to have increased, with 70% of adults favouring tighter rules for social media sites, 64% for video-sharing sites and 61% for instant-messaging services.
The nature of online harms experienced varies across different age groups. The potential online harms most commonly encountered by adults were unsolicited emails (34% experienced in the past year), fake news (25%) and scams or fraud (22%). Among children, 39% experienced offensive language online; 28% had received unwelcome friend requests; 23% encountered cyber-bullying; and 20% had encountered trolling. Social media sites were named as the most common place for experiencing online harms.
The UK Video Games Industry
The report also explores the UK video games industry. Some of the key findings regarding the gaming industry include:
- In 2018 the total global gaming market revenue was estimated at £83 billion, an increase of 15% year on year;
- the UK is the fifth largest gaming market worldwide and the largest in Europe, with UK gaming market revenues amounting to around 5% of the global total;
- in 2018, UK consumers spent £982 million on games on Apple and Android phones in 2018, an increase of 36% since 2016;
- business models in the gaming sector are divided between ownership (i.e. buying a game that is delivered via download) and access (i.e. rental or free-to-access streamed gaming content), with various direct transaction, advertising, and ‘freemium’ models in use to generate revenue;
- online revenues from desktop games continue to grow, but in 2018 represented less than a quarter of total online gaming revenues with consoles and smartphones delivering over 75% of UK gaming market revenues; and
- 21% of adults said they had watched gaming videos on online sites such as YouTube and Twitch, with 12% doing this at least monthly. As a result, online video channels that focus on gaming often have the largest number of subscribers and regular viewers.
The report also highlights how social media platforms are now looking to adjacent markets such as gaming, in order to maintain users, increase user time spent on their platforms and develop new revenue streams.
In response to this report, Dr Ricard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO said:
“The online world presents many benefits for consumers. It makes it easier to communicate, create and share content and find information. However, it can also present risks. The Government’s Online Harms White Paper provides an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with government to ensure that online platforms can continue to provide these benefits whilst protecting users from illegal and harmful activity.
“TIGA will be responding to the Government’s Online Harms White Paper following close engagement with TIGA members.
“If you have any feedback on the consultation questions or concerns with any of the proposals within the White Paper, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can include your comments in our consultation response.”