NMHH research: why doesn’t everyone use the internet?

Published: 14 June 2021

Almost three-quarters of Hungarian households use wired internet, but one and a half million people do not use the internet at all. Belonging to the latter group is mostly influenced by age and wealth. A representative survey by the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) among households and the population aged 14 and over was conducted in August and September 2020.

71 percent of households have a wired internet that allows multiple people to access the internet at once with a single subscription, without a data limit, even with a large screen (i.e., desktop, laptop or tablet). Another 2 percent are replaced by large-screen, non-mobile mobile internet, so overall, in addition to mobile internet, nearly three-quarters of households have large-screen internet that can be used on computers. This means that 1.1 million households can only access the internet on mobile phones or not at all.

Education and wealth are decisive

Where there is no higher education in the family than the eight grades of primary school, there is only a quarter of households with large-screen internet, while where at least one graduate family member lives, the proportion of internet users is already nine-tenths. And those who belong to the lower third of society based on their wealth position, only three out of ten of them can use the internet on a computer at home, while essentially everyone in the upper third (96 percent).

The majority of households without a wired internet access – 74 percent – said they did not want to use one because they did not need it: they replaced it with mobile internet or they did not use the internet at all. The omission of the World Wide Web is true for 18 percent of the population aged 14 and older, i.e. one and a half million people do not use the internet in Hungary. This phenomenon is influenced by several social characteristics, most notably age and wealth. Under the age of forty, virtually everyone already uses the internet, but only 30 percent of those over the age of 70. According to the supply of durable consumer goods in their households, those in the upper third of society also use digital opportunities almost without exception, while only less than half of those in the lowest third (44 percent).

If we look at the combined effect of financial situation and age, we can see that the effect of income situation disappears in the case of young people: they are in essentially any life situation, they definitely use the internet somewhere. In the case of middle-aged people, however, the effect of income is already visible: those who live well, essentially all of them use the World Wide Web, while one in seven of those in a moderate and worse financial situation are left out. In the case of the elderly, the income situation and age together have an effect: even in the elderly, who live comfortably on their income, only six tenths (61 percent) use the internet, and 40 percent in an average and poor financial situation.

The main reason for being left out of the digital world is that for many older people, those younger than them still could not make the internet understandable and appealing enough. Non-internet users most often – 74 percent – explained their absence by not needing it, but they are overwhelmingly (81 percent) elderly. Many mentioned (62 percent) that they did not understand it, but they were also almost exclusively (88 percent) elderly people.

29 percent of those surveyed believe they would not be able to pay their internet bill on an ongoing basis, nor would they be able to buy the right device. They are usually members of the poorest (86 percent), lowest income families (76 percent).

Research background

The survey was conducted between 11 August and 11 September 2020 with a nationally representative sample of 3244 households by means of personal questioning. The interview consisted of two parts: a household interview and an individual interview with a person at least 14 years old. Any biases in the finished household or individual sample were corrected by the researchers by weighting. The survey was carried out for the NMHH by Ariosz Kft.