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Iceni Magazine | December 11, 2019

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What do our Online Habits Tell us about Who we are as Brits?

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The British have always occupied a certain role on the world stage. We are polite, mild-mannered, and effusively apologetic – if any of the traditional representations of good old Britannia are to be believed. In Hollywood, we also retain good stock as the chillingly charming arch-nemeses to whichever brave hero is out on mission to save the world, and more recently, we have raised our profile as do-gooders in films such as Harry Potter and Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them.

However, in this new era of high-speed modems and millennial web-worshippers, big data has shed light on the question of what exactly we Brits are like, what we do, and specifically, what we do with all that time we spend on the internet – which is quite a bit as it turns out.

New governmental research tells us that near 90% of UK adults are frequent internet users, while the number of non-internet users has fallen by over 13% in recent years. These facts alone are not so hard to believe, but the real story emerges when we compare out internet habits to those of other nations. After all, browser history never lies…

We Play More Games than the Americans

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Research from Statista on UK and US internet usage habits reveals a somewhat surprising fact. That’s right, far from being tea-sipping and uptight, we are also the nation of players. Online gaming was found to be a habit cited by 16% of UK respondents, while in a similar survey conducted by the same company, online gaming does not even show up in the answers.

On the one hand, this may mean that unlike our transatlantic cousins, we are a country in love with fun. However, there may be a more complex explanation. Differences in legislation mean that American gambling sites have a harder time interacting financially with their customers, meaning that Brits are much more likely to indulge in this particular pleasure online than their US counterparts. Indeed, online casino games in the UK account for over 1/3 of the market, making this an incredibly popular pastime.  

You only have to look at providers like Mr Green – which features a large selection of slots, including The Marvellous MrGreen, to name but one – to understand how online casino gaming might be skewing the data. With £100 welcome bonuses and a free 100 spins to boot, it’s clear that UK-based online casinos are capitalising on the opportunities presented to them.

The slot in question is a case in point of the evolution of UK-based online casino games, as it features up to 6x multipliers and in-games bonus features. The Americans might, in fact, be more likely to visit a casino in person than to game online in this particular way, but until further research is carried out, we may continue to think of ourselves as the fun ones – and the ones with the more entertaining online casino options too.

We Use the Internet More than the Americans, and Nearly Everyone Else

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When considering internet penetration by country, it is revealed that the UK is one of the most techno-friendly nations on earth. More so than the US, Germany, or even the oft considered lords of the digital era, the Japanese. On reflection, this might not be as surprising as it first appears. The man who first thrust the world into the computer age was indeed a Brit, Alan Turing, recently played spectacularly by Benedict Cumberbatch in 2015’s excellent The Imitation Game. So might it be that his legacy persists today, driving innovation and web-smarts in the British Isles? As with the previous example, it seems there are other factors in play.

In the case of the USA, deregulation has lead to monopolies arising in broadband services, meaning that Americans pay more per megabyte than we do here. This also holds true for France, Canada, and many other countries. So while again it may be tempting to think of ourselves as tech-savvy and cutting-edge, market factors continue to shape behaviours more than national character.

We Are Still More Polite than the French… and Care More About Football than the Rest of the World

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In the previous two examples, we’ve seen how notions about internet use and what that tells us about our fair isle can often be misleading. But here, the case is iron-clad. In 2015, the search habits of the UK and France were very closely matched; the most googled films list is almost identical, apart from one key difference: the number one searched film in the UK was the family-friendly Jurassic World, while in France, 50 Shades of Grey managed to blush its way to the top spot.

While the above example is slightly tongue-in-cheek, it does restore a certain pride in Britain’s unfaltering commitment to propriety and good manners. And for a bonus in this festive season: while Pokemon was most popular search term globally, the UK stayed faithful to Euro 2016.

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