Even in an advanced digital culture such as Germany, the internet continues to gain ground. Penetration, frequency of access and time spent online were all up in Q2 2016 compared to a year earlier, according to the ARD/ZDF Medienkommission.
Nearly 84% of German-speaking residents ages 14 and older used the web at least occasionally—equivalent to 58.0 million people—as of May 2016, ARD/ZDF found. (eMarketer expects 2016’s total to be 63.6 million, but that estimate includes residents of all ages, including those for whom German is not a native language.)
In most age brackets, at least 89% of respondents were internet users, according to ARD/ZDF, with the exception of the 60-and-older cohort; in that group, penetration was 56.6%. The proportion who go online daily has risen steadily, too. Between 2015 and 2016, it climbed by 2 percentage points, to 65.1%
The average daily time spent online had risen in all cohorts. For example, males spent an average 153 minutes on the web each day, compared with 127 minutes in 2015. Among females, the annual rise was less dramatic, swelling from 91 minutes to 104 minutes. Across the entire respondent population, the average time spent was 128 minutes daily—20 minutes more than in 2015.
In addition to rising usage, ARD/ZDF found for the first time that mobile phones (including smartphones) were the devices respondents most frequently used to access the internet. Two-thirds (66%) of those polled used a mobile phone at least occasionally to go online, while 57% used a laptop and 44% used a desktop computer. More than one-third (38%) used a tablet.
Residents ages 14 to 29 were in the vanguard of mobile internet use, with 86% turning to a smartphone or feature phone to access the web. Some 65% of adults 30 to 49 also used a mobile phone to go online, as did 31% of those ages 50 to 69. The youthful skew in mobile internet use helps to explain the sharp increase in on-the-go access as well. Fully 68% of respondents said they used the internet at least sometimes when they were out and about, though only 33% did so daily.
Using search engines such as Google remained the most common online activity; 83% of those polled did this at least once per week. Meanwhile, 81% sent or received email weekly, and 68% used instant messaging. Video viewing posted some of the biggest gains compared with 2015: two-thirds (67%) of respondents watched video once a week or more. In addition, 40% of German-speaking internet users went to a social network at least weekly; 26% checked in to social media every day.