POST Online Media Lite Edition


Internet is primary source of information in Switzerland

Staff writer |
88 out of every 100 people in Switzerland use the internet. Usage time is increasing and accessing the internet from mobile devices is considerably more frequent than before.

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The internet is now the most important source of information, and lots of applications are a daily routine, but concerns about privacy on the internet are increasing.

In addition, users confidence in their internet skills has decreased, especially amongst women. These are findings of a survey by the University of Zurich.

"Switzerland's excellent result in terms of internet access is tainted by the fact that certain parts of the population are disadvantaged, and by rising concerns about privacy. Internet access is not everything", says Prof. Michael Latzer from the Media Change & Innovation Division of IPMZ at the University of Zurich.

After 2011 and 2013, he and his team have now carried out the World Internet Project Switzerland for the third time. The representative survey shows that 88 out of every 100 people in Switzerland use the internet, and 5 more benefit from it by asking relatives or friends to do something for them on the internet.

This means that just 7 in every 100 have no internet access at all, and these are generally people with a lower level of education, on a low income or who are unemployed.

There has been a sharp increase in mobile use of the internet, tripling (63%) since 2011 thanks chiefly to smartphones. 14 to 29-year olds are leading this trend, with more than 90% of them using mobile internet, for example for social networking on Facebook.

A gender gap has reemerged in the past two years, with internet access increasing amongst men but not amongst women. Women are also lagging behind when it comes to using mobile internet (58% compared to 67% of men) and they also use the internet less intensively than their male counterparts.

22 out of 100 women in Switzerland spend less than 5 hours per week online - that figure is twice as high as for men. Women's self-reported internet skills have decreased more dramatically than in the case of men, with 41% of women (2013: 27%) rating their skills as poor or adequate. The corresponding figure was only around one quarter for men.

At 22 hours a week, the average person in Switzerland is spending more than twice as long online than in 2011. 72% of internet users are also using mobile internet en route - roughly three times as many as in 2011 (26%). E-mails and search engines are used most and have become an established daily routine.

While eCommerce is very common, with three quarters of users shopping online for example, this function is used comparatively seldom. Chat functions have exploded (71% of users) thanks above all to WhatsApp, although young people are far more active in this area. The proportion of people playing games online is twice as high amongst those with a lower level of education as amongst university graduates.

On the whole, information is still more important than entertainment, where music apps (69%) and TV (on demand: 46%; live: 43%) have experienced especially strong growth.

Internet most important source of information for the first time

For the first time, the internet is the main source of information for the Swiss population, with print media, radio and TV trailing far behind. Almost two-thirds of the population considers half of the content on the internet to be reliable, particularly content from the SRG (Swiss Radio and Television), newspapers and the government.

The content of social online networks is not considered very trustworthy, particularly amongst young people. All sources of information, including websites, are considered less reliable compared with the last study.

Two-thirds of the Swiss population agrees that a public service remit is important even in the internet era (67%). 38% even agree strongly with this statement.