Global digital use trends: Brits lead US and Europe but distrust grows

Jun 11, 2020 | Online advertising, Regulation, UK

Global digital use trends: Brits lead US and Europe but distrust grows
Britain is leading digital acceleration in terms of adopting new technology, but the fear of fake news has increased, according to new research.

Agency JIN, along with research company, OpinionWay, conducted a survey with 4,000+ respondents to measure people’s attitudes and behaviours during COVID-19 in the UK, France, Germany and the US.

Key findings:

  • Fake news 54% of Gen Z are concerned about fake news
  • Data online 39% of millennials are now more concerned about the data generated about them when online
  • Impact of tech 38% and 35% of Gen Z and millennials respectively are more concerned about the impact of technology on their daily lives
  • Video conferencing: 44% have an account for video conferencing
  • 20% say that they created an account during the pandemic that they will use in the future

With a significant 60% of British people following the news more regularly, it is expected that there is more concern about the spread of fake news. Gen Z saw a higher percentage concerned about fake news, which may be due to the fact that they understand how easy it is to spread false information. This could be due to the notion that Millennials and Gen Z are more cautious about the spread of propaganda by the mass media as many use social media as a source of information.

Increased concern for fake news globally

Whilst the countries have widely adopted digital tools to follow the news and stay in touch, there was an increase in concerns about fake news, privacy and the impact of technology in our daily lives. Fake news is a vastly growing concern in all 4 countries, particularly in Germany, UK and US where people declared to be are more concerned about it than before. This could be because people realise the dangers of misinformation around COVID-19. Global health experts wrote an open letter addressed to Facebook, Twitter, and Google to warn about the viral misinformation on social media threatening lives around the world.

Concerns related to the impact of technology in our daily lives vary across countries. In France and Germany, there are as many people who are feeling less concerned than before about the impact of technology than people who are more concerned. In the UK and the US, the proportion of people who are increasingly concerned about it is higher.

Increased use of digital across generations

Britain is leading in terms of digital acceleration as internet use across generations has increased since the crisis. Similarly, to the US, the UK also saw a large rise in the use of video conferencing across generations. In Britain, 19% of those aged 65+ are using video conferencing, whereas in only 11% France and 5% in Germany are doing the same. In fact, Britain’s had a higher portion of baby boomers adopting digital for online grocery delivery and food delivery, as on average 17% were using online means for this, whereas only 8% of the same in France. This could highlight that Britain’s population is more tech-savvy across generations in comparison to France and Germany.

Data privacy concern

Out of all the demographic, millennials are the most concerned about their data privacy online. This indicates that there may be worry around cybersecurity for this demographic. Another notion is that millennials understand the value of their personal data online and therefore feel more concerned about their data information. To add to this, millennials and Gen Z seem much more concerned about the impact of technology on our daily lives.

Additional insights

Global trend: Amazon stands out but UK values supermarkets during the crisis

Whilst all the countries listed Amazon in their Top 3 standout brands, Brits valued the efforts of the British supermarket chains during the crisis. Brands that displayed empathy and support towards the wider society were viewed more favourably. All 3 supermarket brands had initiatives to support the community, which may have contributed to people feeling more connected to the community. The supermarket chains in Britain came together to draw ‘feed the nation’ contingency plans to help cope with the spike in panic buying.

Has the crisis increased the trust in governmental institutions?

A significant 25% noted that governmental institutions played a major role in helping society during the pandemic. Britain was the only country where a significant portion of the population listed governmental institutions as having a positive impact during the crisis. Within government institutions, hospitals were listed, and our National Health Service were highly praised during this time, which amplified Britain’s shared pride in the NHS.

Britain become more united

73% of Brits felt as or more connected to their neighbours than before. It appears that communities really came together during this time of crisis. Brits felt the most connected to their communities out of all 3 countries surveyed. In fact, initiatives such as Nextdoor, a social media app which connects neighbours by postcode, surged in use amid the crisis.

Source: JIN