2016 has been all about Fake News. With Donald Trump having won the Presidential Elections in the United States, the term for deliberately spreading false information on the internet, has gained worldwide attention. With this global network, every person can put all kinds of unqualified and unreliable information online from almost every point on the globe. The content cannot be checked for its correctness, and thus, can influence a large number of internet consumers. With 82% of all EU citizens using the internet, it is worth to have a look how certain countries or age groups use the world wide web.
The age of digitalization can be clearly seen in the number of households that are connected to the internet. While in 2007 only 55% of European households had broadband connections, this number grew to 85% in 2016. On one hand, the percentage of Europeans who have never used the internet dropped from 37% to 14% in the same period. This shows that more and more people today have the possibility to be connected to the worldwide web. On the other hand, 25% of all Italians have never used the internet. It is obvious, that the group of persons above 55 years increases the average number, but still it is higher than in many other EU countries. Comparing the individuals who never used the internet, Italy is closer to economically underdeveloped countries like Romania or Bulgaria, than to strong economies like Germany, Sweden and Norway. As candidate for the European Union, Turkey is also part of the statistics. In almost every aspect, i.e. individuals who have used the internet in the last twelve months, or the weekly frequency, Turkey is at the lowest ranks. Undoubtedly, these low numbers can be explained with the state censorship.
Obviously, the age of internet users also defines the usage. Almost every European between 16 and 24 years uses the internet at least once a week (96% of the individuals), some of them even daily. In contrast, only 57% of adults with an age above 55 use the internet on a regular, weekly basis. The main activities by young people online (each over 80%) are sending or receiving emails and streaming music or videos, for example YouTube or Netflix. And of course, participating in social networks like Facebook or Instagram is the favorite activity. Meanwhile, only 66% of teenagers use the internet for reading online newspapers, or to inform themselves about political and social news or events. To be fair, the average usage among all age groups is also just 70%. But the main activities by the groups of 25 until 54 years old, and also the group of 55 and older, are sending or receiving emails (highest priority) or getting information about services. Furthermore, reading online newspapers is the third most important activity of these two older groups. Keeping now in mind that those older groups use the internet less often (88% of the second group, and only every second of the oldest group), plus they do not go online for leisure activities or entertainment purposes as much as the younger generation. Regarding those two facts, it is fair to say, that people over 25 years have a higher interest of using the internet for expanding their knowledge or broaden their education. Young people are more attracted to the internet as a place to escape from reality.
According to the research, young Italians are more likely to share political opinions on social networks than the average European with the same age. In 2015, every fifth Italian between 16 and 24 years made his political views public, whereas only 15% of European students have done so. In this age, a third of all highly formal educated Italians shares their ideas online, which is twice the amount of the highly educated European average. While being under average in many aspects of using the internet, young Italians can set an example for all other teenagers and students in Europe.
All data is taken from Eurostat statistics.