Research has shown that historically internet usage has been lower in Italy than most of Western Europe. Now, though, internet penetration is reaching comparable levels.
According to Audiweb, 79.6% of individuals in Italy ages 11 to 74 had access to the internet through at least one device at the end of 2012. Looking at penetration by age group, the rate was highest among teens, at 94.5%. Among adults ages 18 to 34 it reached 92.1%. Seniors—ages 55 to 74—still lagged far behind, however, with just 55.1% accessing the web. Of respondents who didn’t use the internet at all, a majority (55.6%) said they did not know how to use a computer.
One group of professionals—university academics—posted an unbeatable penetration rate of 100%. Geographically, communities of all sizes in Italy registered web penetration of at least 79%. But urban centres with populations over 250,000 tallied 84%.
Audiweb’s figures do not correlate precisely with those from eMarketer because eMarketer estimates monthly internet use by people of all ages. Inevitably, lower penetration at both ends of the age spectrum pushes the overall average down. eMarketer projects that Italy will see about 53% of residents going online this year, compared with 68.1% in Western Europe as a whole.
Audiweb also reported that nearly 17 million residents ages 11 to 74 had internet access via mobile phone or smartphone at the end of 2012.
This estimate of mobile internet users is very similar to eMarketer’s, bearing in mind the differences of methodology mentioned earlier. eMarketer put the number of monthly mobile web users of any age at 16.2 million in 2012, and predicted growth of nearly 30% in that audience size during 2013.
Though more people in Italy are accessing the internet, the time most individuals spend there has not risen appreciably. Audiweb found that Italy’s web users spent the same time online, on an average day, in 2011 and 2012—1 hour and 23 minutes.