Household Use of Information and Communication Technology: 2012

Commentary

Four in five homes connected to Internet

In 2012, 1.3 million New Zealand homes (80 percent) had some form of Internet connection. This 5 percent increase since 2009 indicates that the rate of new connections is slowing, which is to be expected as it gets closer to 100 percent of all households.

Wellington and Auckland have the highest proportion of connections, at 85 percent of households, but large increases were seen across the central North Island (up 9 percent), and the top and bottom of the South Island (also up 9 percent).

Access in rural areas has increased to almost 4 out of 5 households, remaining ahead of smaller urban centres/areas. However, homes with dependents had one of the highest connection rates, at 88 percent.

Graph, Rural and urban access to the Internet, 2009 and 2012.

For those who do not have access to the Internet at home, the main reason remains a lack of interest. However, this figure is steadily declining, while concern over cost has increased, deterring over a third of households from getting connected.

Graph, Reasons that households do not have Internet, 2009 and 2012.

As you are probably reading this online, you are likely to be one of the 4 out of 5 New Zealanders aged 15 years and over who is a recent Internet user (has accessed the Internet in the past 12 months). And if you’re a user, you’re probably hooked, as 78 percent of you will have used the Internet in the past week. The largest groups accessing the Internet in 2012 were those aged between 15 and 44 years old, those currently employed, and those with a tertiary qualification.

Graph, Percentage of recent Internet users, by age group, 2012.

As may be expected, the number of households using broadband has increased across the entire country over the past three years. The largest increases come from the Manawatu-Wanganui region and the West Coast and top of the South Island region, each with almost 20 percent more broadband connections. Two-thirds of households in rural areas now have access to broadband, a jump of 13 percent.

Broadband access has almost entirely replaced dial-up, and is now the connection of choice for nearly 90 percent of recent Internet users.

Kiwis move to more mobile devices

The big change in information and communication technology in recent years is in how and where people are accessing the Internet. In 2009, desktop computers dominated in over two-thirds of New Zealand homes. Now laptops have taken top spot as the most common way people connect. But this is not just about replacing types of technology. There are more types of devices available to connect with, and this is something Kiwis are embracing.

Graph, Devices used by households to access the Internet, 2009 and 2012.

Over the past three years, the number of households using more than one device to connect has doubled, from 21 percent to 40 percent. In 2009, the most popular combination was overwhelmingly a desktop and a laptop. In 2012, this has shifted to a laptop and a mobile phone. Rather than depending on a ‘household’ device (as desktops tend to be), each person in a household can have their own personalised device to connect to the Internet. 

Smartphones have announced their presence: a third of households used a mobile phone to access the Internet in 2012, an increase of 26 percent since 2009. At an individual level, a quarter of all recent Internet users now connect via their mobile phone.

Laptops, tablets, and smartphones: the common features are flexibility and mobility. Our personal use of mobile Internet (cellular, datacards, hotspots, and Wi-Fi) has doubled in the last three years, indicating that half of those who use the Internet are mobile when doing so. What this means is that we’re no longer restricted to homes or workplaces when we connect. We can be working on a laptop while in a café, or even finding directions on our smartphones while on the road – though not while driving, of course.

Online purchasing the way of the… present

Kiwis are putting their money where their mouse is. Online purchases are on the rise, with 1.8 million New Zealanders making an online purchase in the 12 months before the survey. Over 70 percent of New Zealanders aged 25–34 years opted for this convenience, though the biggest increase was for those aged 35–44 years – a jump of 14 percent to a total of 68 percent.

Graph, Population with purchases online in the last 12 months, 2009 and 2012.

It also seems that what we’re buying is changing. We’re not necessarily buying tangible items; over half of those who shopped online had at least one item delivered electronically. This may include items such as e-books, music, or e-tickets.

Looking at those who had made a purchase in the four weeks before the survey, women outnumbered men in spending a total value of up to $500, while the more expensive purchases predominantly belonged to men. The number of people spending a total of over $2,000 online has doubled since 2009, to reach 44,000 people in a four-week period.

Graph, Number of people making online purchases in the last four weeks, by value of purchase, 2009 and 2012.  

Internet entertaining Kiwis in plenty of ways 

While the Internet has a lot of very practical applications, Kiwis are also happy to use it for entertainment. More and more of our entertainment is virtual. We read online, we play games online, and we chat and connect with friends online. This holds across all age groups – almost all have increased. However, some trends identify what we’re most likely to do online depending on our age, education, ethnicity, or income. 

Graph, Online leisure activities, by age, 2012.

Abandoned CD racks may become commonplace in New Zealand homes, as almost half of recent Internet users enjoyed music and movies online in the 12 months before the survey. This is a 10 percent increase since 2009. Though this change is driven largely by those aged 25–44 years, the highest figures come from the highly connected younger generation; over three-quarters of 15–24-year-olds access music online, while two-thirds of the same age group download or watch videos online.

For the older age groups, reading online is one of the preferred activities; 1 in 4 Internet users over the age of 75 years used the Internet for reading. However, social networking is an increasing norm among older age groups, with the proportions for those aged over 55 years doubling since 2009.

Graph, Internet users accessing social networking, by age, 2012.

Those with a tertiary qualification are more likely to be reading online, listening to web radio, and watching web television than those without a tertiary qualification. The proportion of people engaging in these activities also increases as personal income increases.

Māori and Pacific peoples had the highest proportion of people who download or listen to music online and also the highest proportion of those who engage in online gaming. Three-quarters of Māori Internet users had engaged in social networking in the 12 months before the survey. These activities are some of the few areas of Internet use in which Māori and Pacific peoples exceeded other ethnic groups.

For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.