Social inequality behind the screen

05/08/2002 10:00

The use of personal computers is widespread. Two thirds of everyone over 12 uses the computer at least once a month. This includes computer use for work and for private purposes. However, the use of computers is unequally distributed.

Young people lead the way

Computers are used most by young people. In the 12 to 24 year age bracket, 95% use the computer at least once a month. Computer use decreases as age increases. One in six people over 65 use computers.

Highly educated

There is a clear correlation between education level and computer use. Almost half of the least educated people use the computer at least once a month, against three quarters of the people with secondary education. Nine out of ten highly educated people use the computer every month.

Education and age show an independent correlation with computer use.

Hours behind the screen

Inhabitants of the Netherlands aged over 12 spent an average of 10 hours a week behind the computer. The age bracket spending most time behind the computer are the 25-34 year olds. They spent 16 hours more behind the screen than the age bracket with the least computer hours. These are the people over 65 who spend about 1 hour.

Hours of computer use per week by age

People with only primary education use the computer for an average of 4 hours a week. Highly educated people spent about 16 hours. Men spent about twice as much time behind the computer as women: 14 hours versus 7.

People with paid jobs use the computer 15 hours a week while non-working people average 3 hours a week. This includes not only the computer use at work because seven in ten employed persons have used the computer at home against four in ten of the non-working population.

Hours of computer use per week by sex and work

Other differences in computer use turn out to be the degree of urbanisation. In highly urbanised municipalities, computer use averages 13 hours a week versus almost 8 hours in the least urbanised rural areas.

Hours of computer use per week by degree of urbanisation

Jacques Janssen