Reuters reports on a survey that says about 37% of people living in the 25 European Union countries have no computer skills, with Scandinavians being the most computer-literate and Greeks the least.
The survey results – “How skilled are Europeans in using computers and the internet?” (PDF) – announced today by the EU statistics agency Eurostat (see the PDF press release) paints a generally bleak picture of Europeans’ online literacy:
[...] More than one in three (34%) of EU residents have never used a computer, ranging from 8% in the Nordic countries Sweden, Denmark and Iceland to 65% in Greece. It is clear that a lack of e-skills will prevent these people from participating fully in the information society.
Some highlights from the survey results:
- 65% of Greeks, 59% of Italians and 57% of Hungarians had no basic computer skills, compared with 10% in Denmark and 11% in Sweden
- Britons and Germans also lead the EU in computer literacy, with only 21% and 25% respectively of their citizens lacking computer skills
- Among the EU’s 16-24 year olds, some 10% have no computer skills, while 65% of people aged 55 to 74 are unable to use a computer, as neither could 11% of those with higher education
- Just 13% of those surveyed in Britain had read an individual’s blog in the past week, compared with 40% in the US, 25% in France and 12% in Denmark
- Newspaper blogs were even less popular, the study of more than 9,000 readers of websites and newspapers found
- The survey found a very low level of trust for blogs compared with news aggregators such as Google and Yahoo!, the Guardian report says, while national TV and newspaper brands came out on top
That last point in particular reflects similar reseach findings published by Reuters and the BBC last month into trust in government and the media.
Incidentally, the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond has commentary on a survey last month, but it doesn’t look to be the same as the one the Guardian reports about. And Jeff Jarvis raises some points about that Guardian-reported survey and how it was conducted.
So what do we glean from such a rash of information into the online abilities (or lack of) and habits of our fellow citizens in the EU?
On the face of it, the various surveys indicate an alarming gap in online skills and curiosities between the US and most of Europe that looks at least as wide as that separating the continents of North America and Europe. On the other hand, it could all be just another day, another survey as Niall Cook suggests.
Yet I don’t think so. The Eurostats survey in particular illustrates a big mountain to climb in terms of education if Europeans generally are to be able to know how to use the new tools that are so important now to life in general.