8128.0 - Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, Feb 1998  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/06/1998  Ceased
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All


Computer use by households

At February 1998 there were nearly 3 million households in Australia with a computer. This was 42% of all households in Australia. More than 2.4 million of the 3 million households with a computer used the computer frequently (defined as once a week or more).

Growth in computer use

The proportion of households frequently using a computer was 35% at February 1998. This compares with 30% at February 1996 and 23% at February 1994.

Graph: Households Frequently Using a Compute r

Frequency of computer use

Of the households with a computer 47% reported using the computer daily, 28% 2-6 times a week and 8% once a week. Just over 4% of these households reported not using their computer at all.

Intentions to purchase

Of the nearly 4 million households without computers 400,000 reported intending to purchase a computer in the next 12 months from February 1998. If these expectations are realised then by February 1999 the number of households with a computer will reach 3.4 million.

Internet use

At February 1998 nearly 850,000 households had access to the Internet (13% of all households). Of the 2 million households with a computer and no Internet access from home ,470,000 or a quarter reported intending to obtain home Internet access by February 1999.

Image: Computer Penetration in Australian Households, February 1998

Barrier to the uptake of computers and the Internet

Cost (30%) and lack of Interest (29%) were the most frequently reported reason for households with computers not having Internet access. The same two reasons also applied for households without computers. More than 55% of these households reported lack of interest or no use for computers as the main reason while 26% reported cost. The number of households reporting cost as the main reason had declined by 28% since February 1996.

Home computer capacity

There is a clear trend to acquire greater computer capacity. The increase in computer uptake occurred with computers with greater processing and memory capacity. There was a general decline in numbers of computers owned or being paid for with processing capacity below a 486 and memory capacity below 16 megabytes.

Use of computer peripherals and communication technologies

There where considerable increases in peripheral and communication technology usage between February 1996 and February 1998. For peripheral technologies the most dramatic increase occurred for character or image readers (up by 190%) and modems (144%). For communication technologies the largest increase in ownership occurred for voice mail services (up by 173%) and cordless phone ownership (up by 119%).

Access to Pay TV increased by 250% since February 1996.

Graph:Percentage Change in the Use of Peripheral IT by Households (a)

Graph: Change in the Ownership of Selected Communication Technologies


Within the 2.4 million households frequently using a computer there were 5.1 million Australians 5 years and over who used a computer at home. This was an increase of 31% from February 1996. In terms of activities undertaken via the home computer, playing computer games (3 million persons) was still the most popular activity followed by learning/study activities (2.8 million persons).

Internet based activities had the highest increase, growing rapidly by 258% from just over 300,000 persons 5 years and over at February 1996 to 1.1 million persons at February 1998.
The proportions of persons frequently using a computer and accessing the Internet from home at February 1998 for age groups were:

. 5-17 year olds - 7%;
. 18-24 year olds - 9%;
. 25-39 year olds - 9%;
. 40-54 year olds - 7%; and
. 55 years and over - 2%.

Counts of persons using the Internet presented in this publication relate to persons frequently using a computer at home. They differ from those presented in the publication 'Use of the Internet by householders' (catalogue no: 8147.0) because those statistics relate to all users of the Internet .

The activity 'accessing other on-line services/databases,' had the second highest level of increase with 165%. The following graph compares the level of increase for home computer activities from February 1996 to February 1998.

Graph: Percentage Change in Home Computer Activity by Persons Aged 5 Years and Over (a)

Persons 18 years and over using computers from any site

In total 7.5 million persons 18 years and over accessed a computer in the 12 months to February 1998. Of these persons nearly 76% frequently used a computer.

The survey also measured the use of computers at sites outside the home for persons 18 years and over. The most popular sites to use a computer are shown in the graph below.
Graph: Persons Aged 18 Years and over Accessing Computers by Place of Access

The two most frequently reported places to access a computer were work and home (each site with 4.3 million computer users 18 years and over). Of the 3.6 million persons accessing a computer from other locations just over 1.7 million persons reported accessing a computer from a neighbour or friend's house, the third most frequently reported place of access.

Image: Computer Use in the 12 Months to Februsry 1998 by Persons 18 Years and over

More than six million persons 18 years and over used a computer from home or work. A third of these persons had access to a computer from both sites.
Iamge: Computer Use in the 12 Months to February 1998 by Persons 18 Years and Over


The were 7.7 million persons 18 years and over (57% of the total population 18 years and over) who were interested in accessing on-line services from home at February 1998. For specific services the increase in interest from February 1996 was:
. 13% for on-line shopping; and
. 16% for on-line banking.

In the 1998 Household surveys questions on accessing on-line education services and on-line Government information services or online form lodgement services were asked for the first time. The results from the February 1998 survey showed that:
. 47% of persons 18 years and over were interested in accessing online educational services from home; and
. 36% were interested in accessing online government information or form lodgement services.


In the survey people 18 years and over were asked about electronic transactions undertaken in the three months to February 1998. Results from the February 1998 survey showed that:
. 8.9 million Australians had transferred or withdrawn funds via an ATM (66% of the total population);
. 7.8 million had paid bills or withdrawn funds via EFTPOS (58% of the total population); and
. 3.9 million had used a telephone to pay bills or transfer funds (29% of the total population).

Graph: Electronic Transactions Undertaken by Persons Aged 18 Years or More in the Three Months to February 1998

At a much smaller level of activity were transactions via the Internet and electronic kiosks:
. only 44,000 persons paid bills or transferred funds via the Internet; and
. only 69,000 paid bills via an electronic information kiosk.

The level of electronic transactions undertaken in the 3 months to February 1998 dropped off significantly with age.