back to article Surfing far too tedious or terrifying, say Northern Irish women

Women in Northern Ireland are the least likely of all UK adults to have surfed the net, according to new stats on web usage in Blighty. The Office of National Statistics surveyed bods aged 16 and over in a quarterly report, and unsurprisingly found that age, location and gender play a deciding role in people's adoption of the …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Getting over the hump

    I'd suggest that for those older individuals the reason for ignoring the internet has less to do with difficulty, access or cost, but more to do with lousy website design (the Disabilties Discrimination Act notwithstanding), the physical constraints of using a mouse with arthritic fingers and the poor interfaces for people who have never learned to type or who find it difficult.

    After all, it's completely alien to a twenty-something webdesigner to appreciate that double-clicking can take several seconds, or that the wizzy piece of flashy (if not Flash) graphics they were so proud of is utterly irrelevant to someone with poor eyesight.

    Also, you have to ask: what precisely, are the advantages of the internet to someone who doesn't surf for porn, who doesn't work in IT or who's friends don't spend all their waking hours tweeting about their last fart? Maybe the elderly aren't missing out so much as have an alternative lifestyle where the internet is just another channel on daytime TV?

    So with these high and artificial barriers to adoption and little benefit from it's use, maybe it's not too surprising that a large number of people have neither reason nor incentive to get online. Did I just hear Martha Lane-Fox's head explode?

    1. skeptical i

      Actually, most of the Flash/ flashy graphics are irrelevant to folks with decent vision.

      Some of 'em are well done, but too many are just "Lookie what I can do in $latest_graphics_software!" wankerage. Pah.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Getting over the hump

      I think it's an area that the whole IT industry is going to increasingly face. All these new-fangled tablets and mobile phones with dinky little screens - presumably the designers are all under 40 and haven't (yet) heard of presbyopia.

      They are probably on a stick wicket with dinky little keys as well but I suppose most people can get into their 80s before that becomes a likely problem.

      1. Evan Essence

        Re: Presbyopia

        See also cameras with only an LCD screen for composing the shots, and no viewfinder.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Getting over the hump

      (Q.1) What is the point?

      (A.1) Genealogy mostly, and buying stuff on-line for cheapness and to safe tedious journeys, etc.

      (Q.2) What abouyt twenty-something webdesigners?

      (A.2) Fscken - so much tech is all about pointless re-inventions for the sake of it, and not often for any real benefit (not just shitty flash-only based web sites that are now thankfully on the decline, but look at Metro, Gnome 3, Unity, etc). And yes, as others have pointed out, the inability of those over 45-ish to see close up makes small high-res screens useless without reading glasses, etc.

      1. mjwalshe

        Re: Getting over the hump

        Being able to do the weekly shop and not have to A) drive/catch buss to the supermarket and B) drag a set of heavy bags home is a big win for a lot of older users.

    4. John A Blackley

      Re: Getting over the hump

      @Pete 2: My experience of older people tells me they don't use the internet because there's bugger-all of importance out there.

    5. Nuke

      Re: Getting over the hump

      Playing the "disability card"?

      If you look at those statistics you will see that many of the oldies have *never tried* the internet, so how "hard" it is to use is irrelevant.

      Older people I know simply regard the internet as "not for the likes of us" or a work of the Devil, and do not even own a PC in any shape or form, and, more to the point, **they don't want one**. They would not have a clue what double-clicking was anyway.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are you sure this hasn't been mixed up with surfing, as on a surf board?

    Wife of Northern Irish decent says, ' that's a load of bollo*ks ' and she does not mince her words.

  3. Bored Stupid

    I am Northern Irish

    According to my statistics based on gut instinct and a fanciful imagination, at any given moment at least 22.7% of our women are out partying. So while you English, Welsh, and Scottish are perving over naughty pictures and recycling the kleenex, we're out doing the real thing.

    Secondly, the reason a lot of our mums aren't online, is 'cos they ask us to set them up but we put them off 'cos we don't want them going on our facebook and seeing what we're up to.

    Finally, never (ever) understimate the Norn Iron habit of giving you duff information as a form of "mind your own fekking business"

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am Northern Irish


      And here I was thinking it was just because they were spent all their time drinking stout....


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reason for this isn't that they're any more stupid.

    It's because there's no internet access or wireless.

    Outside the big cities, try finding a 3G signal. Shocking.

    The tourist trade alone would treble with decent comms.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The reason for this isn't that they're any more stupid.

      Phah! You should try getting decent internet access anywhere in the ROI..... be it wireless or wired. NI has fibre-to-the-cabinet capability for over 80% of the households....

      1. Christopher Rogers

        Re: The reason for this isn't that they're any more stupid.

        I live 6 miles from Belfast city centre and can't get fibre...

      2. joeW

        Re: The reason for this isn't that they're any more stupid.

        It's grand in the main towns. 100Mbs lines from UPC are becoming the norm.

        You'd be better off utilizing "IP over Avian Carrier" out in the country though.

  5. Waldorf

    What a load of bollocks reports like this are. Anyone factor into the equation that 80% of the NI population is connected to rural exchanges which aren't unbundled and where you just can't get more than 1Mb data speed?

    It's just not worth the effort to try and use the internet.... It's no wonder UK has dropped well down the Euro performance charts in terms of Broadband speed. If the Government and ISPs can't be bothered, it's no wonder the Population aren't.

    Back on my board then, it's much more exciting... and faster.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > 80% of the NI population is connected to rural exchanges which aren't unbundled and where you just can't get more than 1Mb data speed?

      Got a source for that? A third of the NI population live in Greater Belfast, hardly rural. NI has generally had better network provision than much of the UK because it was a favourite testbed for new technologies, being compact and something of a microcosm if the UK as a whole in terms of the ABC population distribution. There was also usually a lot of EU cash sloshing around to help out "less favoured regions", and BT was pretty good at getting its hands on that. BT Infinity has bee rolling out there for some time now.

      I'd say it's much more likely that the folks there have better things to do with their time than surfihg. The craic's generally better in a pub than online.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. James 51 Silver badge

    Bored stupid has a point as does the AC.

    Our local train and bus company is support to be putting in wi-fi in their vehicles soon so that might have some impact on the numbers. However whenever I go to my local library (which has lost over 50 percent of its shelving space but has put in extra seats for mums to play with their kids at an activity table) the computers are always busy.

    There is another factor, in my area sky have at least 90% of the broadband market and at busy times my download speed is less than 0.1 mbs. Having to move to BT fibre to get a resonable connection but it's four times the cost. I live in a resonable sized town but there's no 3 signal, all the main mobile operators website say they don't provide mobile broadband in the area either.

  7. waxy41

    Not necessarily bullshit...

    Currently sitting in NI, in a cloud services company, I can relate to this.

    Northern Ireland seems to have two extremes, those that love new technology and those that fear / hate it. My mum (mid 50s), has only recently got over her fear of the internet and computers, but still does not like using them on a regular basis - don't even get me started on when I suggested that she get an iPad. This though, is in complete contrast to my mother in-law who is surgically attached to her phone/laptop.

    We find that among certain sectors / industries over here in NI we have a far slower rate of adoption of services like our own due to preconceived opinions and fear of the internet than is experienced in the rest of the UK.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is an Upside

    If the Communications Data Bill passes (which I am sure it will) then these 7 million will probably be among the last people in the UK to be free from ubiquitous government surveillance. There are advantages to staying off-line (though some media reports recently suggested trying to minimise your online profile was tantamount to being a pyschopath).

  9. Bootneck

    What a load of old tosh

    I am a 68 year old retired old git and the reason the elderly and many disabled people do not go on line is the cost of the equipment and more likely the relevance to them of what is out there on the web. Have you people ever thought that many elderly only have a government pension topped up with housing allowance how on earth do you expect them to spend £400 on a PC never mind the cost of the ISP monthly charges . Of course there are a proportion of the elderly that can afford the luxury of being to be able to afford the equipment and usually are from the educated/ business classes and have got a reasonable works/private pension.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a load of old tosh

      50 quid will get you a perfectly serviceable second-hand PC.

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