Hyper-connected Italians, but the digital divide is not receding

Hyper-connected Italians, but the digital divide is not receding

Hyper-connected Italians

After the severe physical confinement of spring 2020 and with the continuation of the intermittent openings of these months, more and more research is analyzing how our digital habits have changed - this is the case of a survey conducted by Avira in France, Italy and Germany last fall. But to fully understand our digital habits, in light of the profound differences between desktop to mobile use, it is also necessary to try to outline which devices we use and how.

Toluna, the main consumer platform insight on the Italian market, in collaboration with UPA, Users Advertising Associates, conducted a survey to investigate the daily experience of Italian families in the use of technological devices. The research involved a sample of 1000 people with different ages, lifestyles, skills, geographical areas of residence, access to the network. The results confirm some hypotheses (and commonplaces) about our habits and bring out other interesting details.

The device most used by Italians is the smartphone, closely marked by the computer. According to the participants, the smartphone is also the most used device at any time of the day. The "mobile phone" is truly omnipresent: 57% of respondents say they look at it already upon waking or after dinner, with 39% who get to take a last look a few moments before going to sleep. The peaks of use, however, occur during the morning and afternoon, when 70% of participants report "throwing the eye" - even when at work. Over the weekend, use tends to change slightly, although one in three interviewees confesses that they are unable to "detach" completely even during lunch and dinner.

As for computers, you may have noticed that unfortunately the survey puts desktops and laptops into one category - as is the case in the monthly Steam survey. Based on the analysis conducted by Digitime Research on international hardware sales, however, we can assume that even in Italy the notebook market exceeds the desktop one. It is also interesting to note the quantitative numbers of these devices: 46% of respondents report having more than seven digital devices at home, while 11% reach up to twelve devices. This percentage includes a large proportion of families with children studying, showing the impact of DAD on last year's digital shopping and habits.

The evergreens of the contemporary entertainment industry also continue to resist: the radio is listened to by 49% of the interviewees, while television is close to 64%. These products are also considered technologies to be used “in sharing”, both of traditional and digital contents. For this reason, among the televisions, 57% of the participants say they have purchased a smart-TV and use it to enjoy on-demand programs. The paid platforms preferred by Italians are Amazon Prime (54%), Netflix (46%) and SKY (29%), with an average of 2.4 subscriptions per family. Nonetheless, 18% of the participants did not give up and declared that they did not subscribe to any on demand subscription.

The love for zapping does not fade. Even on the new devices, respondents report "zomping" from one platform to another. The on-demand contents are used above all by digital devices, rather than by smart-TVs or smartphones: in the lead are tablets (used by 66% of the interviewees, a figure which also affects the role of families), followed by PCs and laptops (64%). The traditional generation gap in the use of technologies is also reconfirmed: between the under and over 55 there is a significant gap with respect to the use of devices and their sharing. Young people are "smarter", that is, more accustomed to use, and also more "individualistic". The latter, on the other hand, follow more well-known habits: 1 interviewee out of 3 declares to turn on the radio in the morning and 1 out of 2 the TV in the evening, especially during dinner or in prime-time. In the queue there are also e-books and smart speakers, used frequently by only 30% of the interviewees. No information regarding the types of internet subscriptions subscribed, but we believe that - to support this load of virtual consumption - it is necessary to have a high quality modem, also considering replacing the one provided by the provider. If you are looking for suggestions, we recommend that you read our router purchase guide.

The survey, however, does not take into account other aspects of digital living. The use of content and the use of these devices, with the exception of traditional radio and television, strongly depend on the quality of one's home network. According to the Digital Quality of Life Index 2020, an annual report prepared by the provider of VPN and anonymity services SurfShark (services for any platform, including the immortal Windows 95), the quality of life in Italy from the point of view of digital services, the The level of broadband infrastructures and cybersecurity, internet services provided by public bodies is not high: our country is in fact twentieth in the ranking, with a negative trend that has seen it lose eleven positions compared to 2019. What are the causes of this slip?

The causes are due to an average, not mathematical, of points in favor and serious shortcomings. Among the first we mention the economic sustainability of the internet connection, surpassing most of the western and northern European states, and the level of electronic security guaranteed to the citizen. The main weaknesses, on the other hand, are the quality of the electronic infrastructures and the quality of the connections (positions 54 and 41, respectively). These data confirm the serious digital divide that characterizes our country.

A "patchy" situation, which presents significant imbalances. According to Istat data referring to the 2018-2019 two-year period, 76.1% of Italian households have access to the Internet awaiting updates for 2020. Of these, the majority (74.7%) also have a broadband connection. The connection quality of these families, according to an analysis by SosTariffe.it, has increased significantly in the last year: the average download speed in the regions has undergone an average increase of 22.68%.

These data, however, fail to correctly outline the picture of the remaining 23.6% of the population, which not only does not necessarily have quality access to the network but which may lack the necessary devices to use (or have in small numbers and not enough for a contemporary use, as verified in many primary schools with the DAD). According to data from the Ministry of Education and AGCom for 2020, prepared and published by IlSole24Ore on the occasion of the first Ristori decree, there are more than 330,000 Italian students without any training device. A further unknown factor is represented by the inhabitants of those small municipalities, located on the islands or in inaccessible areas such as the Ligurian Riviera, who risk not being able to access all the telematic services of the Public Administration.

The PA represents a clear case of the “broken down” update adopted by Italy. The pandemic has certainly accelerated some digital transitions, in particular in the adoption of the single access system with digital identity (Spid) and of the electronic payment system for public administration services (Pago PA), which now account for just under 20 respectively. millions of users and a + 87% transaction growth rate - both figures, however, are also impacted by being mandatory to sign up for public contests launched in recent years. At the same time, Eurostat data are discouraged: Italy is second to last in the ranking of use of eGovernment services, where only 19% of citizens say they consider them useful and easy to access.

These data are also confirmed by DESI 2020. The regional level analysis held annually by the Digital Agenda Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with Agcom, Cisis, Emilia-Romagna region, Piedmont region and the in-house ART-ER and CSI Piemonte confirms that, net of the improvements determined from the extraordinary nature of the moment, the digital divide gap between regions is still strong and even the most advanced regions are characterized by a quality of services inferior to other European areas.

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