We’ve reached a point where almost every week we post about some new security or privacy breach that’s hit the mainstream headlines within the tech world. With an ever-increasing array of smart technologies and mobile devices adding to the already-existing world of computers, tablets and laptops, there are always new ways for cyber criminals to target us and our personal data.

Well, now it seems that this distrust of technology is leading to more and more people quitting the internet. Accoring to a new survey that was conducted by Oxford University, a huge 10 percent of people in 2019 chose not to be connected because they’re concerned about their personal privacy.

The survey findings

A similar survey taken in over half a decade ago in 2013 revealed that only one percent of respondents had similar fears. Also, in the 2013 study, 8 percent of survey respondents said that their lack of familiarity and knowledge of the internet was the cause of them avoiding being online.

In the latest study, this has more than doubled to 18 percent, and there has been a clear increase in those concerned over their online privacy. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of respondents to the latest Oxford University survey said that they were uncomfortable with the targeted tracking and marketing methods used by some of the biggest software companies.

Conversely, the number of those who simply had no interest in the internet dropped from 82 percent of respondents in 2013 to 69 percent in 2019. This seems to indicate that those avoiding the internet are doing so due to reasons other than disinterest.

Oxford University’s research also showed an an increasing divide between internet users depending on their age and their income. According to the data, those on the lowest incomes – typically below than £12,500 annually – are the largest group of non-users, with 6 out of 10 people in this category being disconnected. And those older than 50 were typically also among those not connected to the internet.

The research looked at a large control group of 2,000 people and led researchers to believe that many might be missing out on opportunities to improve their lifestyle.

‘The majority of people are having positive experiences of internet use, regularly going online to watch their favourite shows or pay their utility bills (…) However, there is a widening perception gap between internet users and non-users, with non-users resolutely avoiding the internet. Often these non-users are from low-income groups, where being online could potentially improve their quality of life.’

Dr Grant Blank, survey research fellow at Oxford Internet Institute