One in 10 UK adults don't even know the Internet exists, despite the hype surrounding the technology. This was the finding of the third in an annual series of studies by US research giant Arbitron, to track awareness and access to the Internet in the UK. The survey sampled 2,085 adults and found that awareness of the Internet has risen from 68% of adults in 1995 to 92% in 1997. However, usage lags well behind awareness. Only 17% - equal to nearly 8 million adults - said they had used the Internet at some time, compared to 13% or 6 million in 1996. Use of the Internet also divides the country on economic, age and gender lines, according to Colin Shaddick, director of Continental Research.
"Use and awareness of the Internet in the UK is obviously growing, but it is still the young, male white-collar (ABC1) people who are using it the most," he said. In fact, 38% of UK on-line users are under 24-years-old with the number declining as the age groups increase: so only 15% of people over 45 have ever used the Internet. More than 2.4 million of those asked have access to the Internet in their homes with a further 1.5 million predicting they will have access within the coming six months. A further 7% expect to gain access to the Internet at their places of work this year, which will be added to the 5% (2.4 million) who already do. Shaddick believes the Internet has a long way to go in terms of speed and ease-of-use before it becomes a real consumer item. He said: "There is no doubt that the Net is still very much a business tool. Until it speeds up, it will probably remain that way."
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