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Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Technology takes hold on British life
A typical washing-up scene, BBC
Sometimes digital still means 'with your hands'
The home computer has become as popular in British homes as the tumble drier.

A large scale study of the uses that British people are making of technology has found that, for the first time, computer ownership in the UK has topped 50%.

The same proportion are also regular users of e-mail.

And its not just computers that are popular. Almost three-quarters of Britons own a mobile phone.

Aversion therapy

The burgeoning interest in technology is shown by the fact that people are now twice as likely to have a PC as they are to own a dishwasher.

Janet Thorpe, PA
Silver surfers are not driving British net use
"PCs, mobile phones, e-mail are all part of everyday life in Britain but they haven't changed out lives in the way that enthusiasts said that they might," said Richard Reeves of The Work Foundation.

"I think that the really interesting chapter of the technology revolution is just beginning."

The research was carried out by the iSociety division of the Work Foundation, formerly the Industrial Society, and is one of the largest studies of the effect of information and communication technologies on life in Britain.

The research found that 27% of those it questioned have become huge fans of technology, be it in their hand or on a screen, and cannot conceive of living their lives without the aid of a phone or web browser.

These people tend to be male, live in cities, earn more than the average salary and spend more than 10 hours per week online at home or work.

Pragmatists rule

The research brands a bigger proportion of the population, 32%, as Aversives - people who do not get much of a buzz from using technology.

Although 60% of this group own a mobile phone most had it bought for them as a present or through fears of personal safety.

But by far the biggest group identified by the research, 43%, is classified as Quiet Pragmatists that follow the train blazed by the enthusiasts but pick and choose what they do online or with a phone.

Instead of being wowed by technology for its own sake this group puts it to more practical ends.

"Our use of technology is dominated by everyday concerns - friends and family, childcare and the shopping," said James Crabtree of the iSociety Project.

This group of pragmatists is hard to pin down because they can be any age and doing almost any job.

The report points out that the "reaction of this group to change is critical for the diffusion of communication technologies into wider society".

See also:

14 Nov 01 | Business
19 Apr 01 | Science/Nature
17 Aug 00 | Education
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20 Aug 01 | Business
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