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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Brits turning into computer buffs
Woman using a computer
Most people use their computer to use the web
Computers have become a part of everyday life for most Britons, a survey has shown.

The trade body, the British Computer Society (BCS), found that 75% of the adults have used a computer at some stage in their lives.

But just over half said that computer technology was complicated, while many were concerned about porn on the net.

According to separate report released on Saturday, almost 27 million Britons use the net either at home or at work.

Computing benefits

More than 2,000 adults were questioned in the survey for the BCS.

The trade body commissioned the research to find out how familiar the public were with computers.

We see it as essential that all of society is able to use a computer with the same confidence as the telephone
David Clarke, BCS
It concluded that the UK has become a nation of computer buffs, with three-quarters of adults having used a computer at home or at work.

Most people use the machines to surf the internet, send e-mails or for a spot of word processing.

Another popular activity was playing online games.

But this does not mean that the UK had turned into a nation of computer addicts. Only a third of those questioned use their PC for more than five hours a week, with an average figure of 10 hours a week.

However, the report also flagged up that more than half still saw computer technology as far too complicated and felt they were being left behind by the latest advances.

More significantly, there were indications of a digital divide emerging, with 26% having no access at all to a computer.

"It is clear that not everyone is experiencing the benefits of computing, despite the government's aim to ensure every home has access to a PC," said BCS Chief Executive David Clarke. "This is an area which must be addressed."

"We see it as essential that all of society is able to use a computer with the same confidence as the telephone."

Broadband growth

A separate survey, though, had some good news for the government, which has been keen to promote the notion of a "broadband Britain".

Man putting cable on computer
75% have used a computer at some stage in their lives
73% used it for the net
57% use the net for online purchases
54% frustrated with complexity of PCs
72% concerned over immoral online content
Source: BCS survey
Market research firm NOP World found that the falling cost of going online was tempting more people to the web.

It said almost two million Britons went online for the first time in the first six months of the year, accounting for the biggest surge since the heydays of the dotcom boom in 2001.

Some 26.8 million people connected to the net, either at work or home, with 40% of them via broadband.

"The online and off-line behaviour of broadband users is significantly different from the general population," said the NOP researchers.

"We are seeing a knock-on impact through many off-line activities for broadband users, such as a decrease in TV viewing."

As from today, a million more homes and businesses in the UK are in reach of broadband, with BT scrapping exchange distance limits.

Now anyone living more than 6km from an ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) exchange will be able to get a 512Kbps connection.

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