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Ofcom’s Online Nation 2021 reveals a year lived online

Written by on 9th June 2021

UK adults spent more time online on desktop, smartphones or tablets in 2020 than comparable European countries according to Ofcom’s annual study into the nation’s online habits.  

Ofcom’s Online Nation 2021 delivers a snapshot of an unprecedented year, when communication, entertainment, culture, retail, work and education moved more online.  

UK adults spent more than three-and-a-half hours online each day in 2020 – more than an hour longer than in Germany and France and 30 minutes more than Spain.

Brits also spent nearly £2.45bn on, and in, mobile apps across last year, with Tinder, Disney+, YouTube and Netflix topping the list.

The report also reveals:

  • The UK’s online shopping bill sored by almost 50% to nearly £113 billion in 2020.
  • Teenagers’ online purchasing power is also growing – they’re now spending more money online than offline (68% vs. 32% in March 2021);
  • TikTok experienced huge growth during the pandemic – from 3 million UK adult visitors in September 2019 to 14 million by March 2021
  • Tinder is the most popular dating app among young adults, while around half (49%) of all UK adults (26 million) visited an adult website or app in 2020;
  • Despite most platforms setting their minimum user age at 13, nearly two-thirds (59%) of UK children use social media by the time they are 11. By age 15, use increases to 95%; and
  • Two-thirds of boys (67%) and three-quarters of girls (77%) aged 7 to 16 said that social media can cause them worries about body image.

Alongside the full report and interactive report, we are publishing three third-party reports designed to help Ofcom better understand people’s online habits, behaviours and attitudes.


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