LONDON: An annual survey by regulator Ofcom found that UK adults spent an average of three hours and 47 minutes online each day during the pandemic.
The annual report examined what people are doing online, how they are served by online content providers and platforms, and their experiences of using the internet.
Online shopping and food and drink sales rose by 48 percent to £113 billion ($159 billion) during 2020 as high street shops and restaurants were forced to close.
In April 2020, internet users in the UK spent an average of four hours and two minutes online each day, 37 minutes more each day per online adult compared with January 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe.
The accelerated shift to online and digital spheres was mostly recorded in young adults aged between 18 and 24. For instance, the video-sharing app TikTok grew exponentially from 3 million adult visitors in September 2019 to 14 million by March 2021.
Moreover, as workplaces, schools and universities closed their doors, a shift to online conferencing programs like Zoom, Microsoft Teams Teams and Skype was also noted. “Zoom had extraordinary growth — from a few hundred thousand users in the first two months of 2020 to more than 13 million in April and May,” the report said.
The accelerated and effectively uncontrollable shift to online and digital media has allowed fake news and misinformation to spread widely, especially when it comes to news about the pandemic.
For example, some of the fake news shared in the beginning of 2021 included claims that face masks offered no protection against the virus or caused harm, and that the number of deaths linked to coronavirus was much lower than reported by mainstream media.