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Research: Brits’ Zoom, Houseparty usage soaring

May 5, 2020

UK comms regulator Ofcom has published its latest weekly research on how Britons are receiving and acting on news and information during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

The report summarises the findings from week five of the ‘lockdown’, including how people’s experiences and behaviour has changed since the previous weeks.

The research, which also includes early findings on how the pandemic is impacting Britons’ online behaviour, shows that:

  • adult Internet users in the UK spent 17 minutes longer online on average each day in March compared to January;
  • eight times as many online adults in the UK used video conferencing service Zoom in March than in February, while 35 times as many used group video chatting service, Houseparty;
  • online adults visited the BBC’s news website or app an additional 19 times on average in March compared to previous months, and spent an 24 extra minutes viewing the content;

In week five of lockdown:

  • the frequency with which people accessed news and information about Covid-19 continued to fall; just one in 10 people now access news about the virus at least 20 times a day, compared with a quarter (24 per cent) in week one;
  • the proportion of people who are actively seeking to avoid news about the pandemic continued to increase (34 per cent), up from 22 per cent in week one;
  • use of social media as a source of information about the pandemic decreased – from 49 per cent in week one to 34 per cent in week five;
  • half of people (50 per cent) came across false or misleading information about Covid-19. False claims linking 5G to the outbreak remain most common, but these are being seen less frequently (by 51 per cent of people in week four, compared to 47 per cent in week five); and
  • virtually all respondents continue to say they are closely following the official advice about practising social distancing (97 per cent), only going outside for essential things (96 per cent) and washing hands regularly (91 per cent).

A report examining consumption of news and information about Covid-19 by ethnicity, covering weeks one to four of the lockdown, is also available. It finds, among other things, that social media is a more popular source for accessing news and information about Covid-19 among minority ethnic groups (54 per cent) than adults from a white ethnic group (40 per cent). A higher proportion of adults from a minority ethnic background (47 per cent) also say they are finding it hard to know what’s true and false about the coronavirus compared to white adults (35 per cent).

The next wave of the research, covering week six of the lockdown, will be published on Tuesday  May 12th 2020.


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