From dial-up to YouTube, research firm Amarach has gathered a decade of information on the evolution and changing habits of the Irish internet user, growing from the 13pc online in 1998 to the estimated 68pc by the end of this year.
Like most other countries worldwide, usage of the internet in Ireland is beginning to change rapidly, with more and more users changing from the passive activities of surfing, shopping and downloading to using social networking like Facebook and MySpace, as well as creating their own content and uploading it onto sites like YouTube or Flickr.
It was found that three quarters of all internet users in Ireland had watched a video on YouTube in the past 12 months, while 53pc had listened to internet radio.
While the research showed several factors are behind why some of us get connected while others don’t have access or choose not to, it seems as though the gender divide no longer exists with the same percentage of males and females using the internet.
However, findings show that although two thirds of Dubliners use the internet, a small minority of those living in the Connaught/Ulster region do. This is most likely due to lack of broadband availability in some rural areas or areas not close to major urban centres, says Amarach.
Still, there is optimism in the report that by next year the majority of Irish households will not only have broadband access but will also be using 3G mobile broadband by 2010.
Age is a factor when it comes to the habits of the Irish online: younger users tend to spend longer on the net with the under 25s spending as much as nine hours online, while the over 65s don’t usually spend more than three hours surfing the net.
Socio-economic status, as with most consumer trends, also affects access to the internet. Only one fifth of the economically disadvantaged access the internet, while 90pc of those in the upper-income brackets use the internet.
Amarach also predicts certain key trends will continue to thrive in the next few years, such as the convergence of operators and more triple-play offerings combining voice, broadband and digital TV services.
The rise of the mobile internet is also expected as handsets get bigger screens and better processors.
By Marie Boran