Internet usage rockets as nation studies, works and plays from home

The number of hours the average Scottish household spends on the internet has jumped by more than a quarter to 35.5 hours a week as a result of the lockdown, a report has found.

Internet useage has soared during lockdown.
Internet useage has soared during lockdown.

The study found the rise was driven by the amount of time spent on video calls, which more than doubled. Meanwhile, the time people say they spend online working has risen by 60 per cent. Use of online video games and streaming has also risen as people turn online to keep them entertained at home.

The average household has eight web-connected gadgets, with up to five devices using the internet at the same time, according to the report from uSwitch.com. The amount of time spent streaming content on apps such as Netflix and YouTube has risen by a fifth to nearly seven hours a week.UK-wide, before the lockdown, households spent an average of 32 hours a week on the internet, with the bulk of the time - seven hours - browsing social media. With millions of people now forced to stay at home, working online now takes up the lion’s share of internet usage - at 8.5 hours a week, a rise of two thirds.

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Regional data shows that Edinburgh residents spend more time online than those in Glasgow, however, with those in the capital racking up 36.3 hours compared to 34.8 hours. In Glasgow, households have not reported any rise in the amount of time spent studying online, while the average home in

Edinburgh has seen broadband use for study rise by 37 per cent. Across Scotland, study time online has gone up by 18 per cent to 3.3 hours.Total post-lockdown internet usage in Scotland is lower than the UK average of 41 hours, at 35.5 hours per week.

The study found that the increased demands on broadband has resulted in households experiencing problems with their connection, with one in five households reporting issues they do not usually suffer.

Some problems could be speed-related, with more than a third of households with an ADSL connections experiencing problems, compared to just one in five of those with a superfast connection, and only one in eight of those with an ultrafast connection.

Half of those reporting problems said their connection kept cutting out, while a third could not even connect in the first place, and a third found that streaming videos keep buffering.

Adelana Carty, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, said: “The lockdown is testing households’ broadband connections to the limit, as multiple devices use the internet around the clock. The average household has up to five devices using the internet at any one time, and connections can struggle when numerous people are streaming television and films or using video calling at the same time.

“It’s already a very challenging time for many households, but having a reliable broadband connection can at least give a bit more stability to services many are increasingly reliant on. If you’re finding that web pages are failing to load, or streaming videos are constantly buffering, it’s worth trying our tips to keep you connected. Some straightforward steps like rebooting your router or turning off your HD streaming can really make a difference.

She added: “For those struggling on slower ADSL connections, where an upgrade could make a really noticeable difference to day-to-day use, it is often possible to move to superfast broadband without the need for an engineer to visit, and potentially save money at the same time.”

The amount of time spent shopping online has dropped in Scotland by 6 per cent to just 2.9 hours.

Due to coronavirus, Openreach engineers are only going into houses for installations where a vulnerable customer would otherwise be without a connection. Most consumers won’t require a home visit, so should still be able to upgrade from an ADSL to superfast broadband remotely.

All figures are averages across all households surveyed - some of which may have children and be of varying sizes.

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