Survey: Nearly 1 in 5 Europeans have never used Internet

If you would put down that smartphone for one minute, we will share some astounding news with you: The people of Romania find you very strange.

While most of us Americans are obsessed with our mobile devices, afraid to go 30 seconds without checking for those emails and messages that haven’t been sent, Romanians apparently are relatively digital-free. They probably actually talk to one another when they go out for dinner.

According to a new survey, described in a post on the Wall Street Journal’s site, a lot more Europeans are going without the Internet than the Internet-tethered crowd known as the United States of Smartphonia:

Nearly one in five Europeans aged 16 to 74 have still never used the internet, according to the latest results in an annual survey released Tuesday from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office.

When asked, “When did you last use the Internet?”, 18% of people surveyed answered “never,” down from 43% in 2006.

Those results are similar to a forecast made by research company eMarketer in November. The company said that about 73% of Western Europeans and 52% of Central and Eastern Europeans had used the Internet at least once in the past month.

The definition of “the Internet” has grown vastly in recent years with the widespread adoption of smartphones and apps that move beyond simple web browsers. The survey asked generally about use of the internet, without defining it.  The survey later asked whether people used smartphones, laptops or other devices, and what they used the internet for, such as emails, social networks, gaming or shopping.

The range of use among various European and Eastern European countries is fascinating. Scandinavians, it turns out, are as obsessed as we are with all things digital:

Only 1% of people in Iceland said they had never used the Internet, while 94% said they used it every day. Less than 5% of people in Norway, Denmark and Luxembourg said they had never used the Internet. The number of Brits who said they had never used the internet dropped to 6% in 2014 from 29% in 2006.

But it’s Romania that takes the cake for unpluggedness:

Romania had the most people offline, with 39% saying they had never used the Internet. About one third of people in Greece and Italy said they had never used the Internet.

Worldwide, 40% of people have used the internet at least once in the last month, according to the eMarketer forecasts from November.  The company said 28% of people in the Middle East and Africa and 79% of people in North America have used the internet at least once in the last month.

The findings come from a survey conducted each year by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office. The conclusion mirrors a similar forecast from research company eMarketer in November, which said that nearly three-fourths of Western Europeans and more than half of Central and Eastern Europeans had used the Internet at least once in the past month.

Illustration from MCT archives

 

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