The coronavirus pandemic has caused an exceptional increase in the use of internet-based technology.
The need for information and also the limitations on the movement of people have made more and more people - even among the elderly - go to social networks, instant messaging services and all kinds of platforms to be able to be informed of what is happening, communicate with their loved ones, find entertainment or run errands.
Statistics Finland's 2020 survey on use of information and communication technologies shows that as many as 82% of Finns aged 16 to 89 used the Internet several times a day in 2020. The share increased by 3 percentage points from the previous year.
Using the Internet several times a day increased particularly in the two oldest age groups of the survey, among those aged 65 to 74 by six percentage points and among those aged 75 to 89 by seven percentage points.
The share of Internet users of the population grew by two percentage points from the previous year to 92%.
Of the modes of communicating on the Internet, the most common was email, which 87% of those aged 16 to 89 had used in the past three months.
A total of 76% of Finns had used instant messaging (Whatsapp, Telegram...) on a smartphone and 72% had made Internet calls. Making Internet calls grew by as much as 12 percentage points in one year.
Online newspapers and television companies' news pages are most commonly followed among the media. During the past three months, 85% of those aged 16 to 89 had read them.
Television companies' net television services had been watched by 74% and chargeable video on-demand services (Netflix, HBO, YouTube...) by 49% of Finns.
There were changes in following the media in 2020. Following online papers and news pages of television companies increased by 9 percentage points from the previous year. The change was biggest in the age groups 65 to 74 and 75 to 89, where the popularity of television companies' net television services also grew.
Listening to audio books in the past three months increased most in younger age groups, by 17 percentage points among those aged 25 to 34 and by 16 percentage points among those aged 35 to 44. One million Finns (23% of those aged 16 to 89) had listened to audio books, while in the year before the corresponding figure was only 600,000.
During the past three months, 69% of those aged 16 to 89 followed social network services. In the previous year, 61% followed social network services and in 2015 the figure was 58%. "The change in 2020 is exceptional," according to Statistics Finland.
In relative terms, the growth was biggest in the oldest age groups, among those aged 65 to 74 the number of followers of social network services grew from under 200,000 to over 300,000 and among those aged 75 to 89 from 45,000 to over 75,000. It is probable that the restrictions imposed by the “corona spring” moved social interaction to the web and motivated elderly people to learn new social media skills.
The most commonly used social network service in 2020 was Facebook, followed by 58% of those aged 16 to 89. WhatsApp and Instagram with shares of 50 and 39% came next.
When asked which of the social network services the respondent used most, 36% said Whatsapp and only 32% Facebook. Young people used WhatsApp more often than Facebook, similarly as Instagram. In the older age groups the situation was the opposite.
Online banking, shopping
Of everyday errands, online banking is most common. 87% of persons aged 16 to 89 had used online banking in the past three months in 2020. People also use the Internet increasingly for handling matters with authorities and other public services. In 2020, altogether 68% of Finns had sent an official form over the Internet during the past year. 50% of Finns had made a doctor’s appointment.
Over the past three months, 54% of the population had bought goods or services over the Internet, which means that online shopping continues to become more common. In 2020, the number of purchases also increased and the amount of money spent on online shopping grew somewhat. Over three months, 17% of Finns ordered food portions online directly from restaurants or through courier services. 8% bought food or beverages from stores.
In 2019, all purchases of food were asked with one question and with a reference period of 12 months. At that time, 8% of Finns bought food, so it would seem that buying food online has established itself once and for all during “corona spring”.
The use of devices and systems connected to the Internet is becoming more common. In 2020, every tenth person aged 16 to 89 had used home security systems, while 7% of Finns used home heating, lighting and similar systems.
Of devices connected to the Internet, the most popular were smart watches, fitness trackers and security equipment, which 30% of the respondents used. In all, 16% of those aged 16 to 89 used virtually assisted smart speakers; of young people and students as many as nearly one-third.