Sociodemographic profile of Spanish Internet users

In general, we live in a hyperconnected world, where in one way or another we are always connected to the internet, but are all sociodemographic profiles the same? The study of has made a study on creating a profile type of Internet users in Spain during 2017. We tell you more about this and we take you to know how are the people who usually connect, how the age and the labor situation affect and many more interesting data.

The Information Society and Telecommunications National Observatory (ONTSI), ascribed to the public entity, have prepared a study, in collaboration with the National Institute of Statistics, to know the socio-demographic profile. The work focuses on the population of 16-74 years, except a part that seeks to deep into the smallest (from 10 years and up). To achieve these results, more than 14,000 households (16-74 years) and more than 17,000 households (> 10 years) were interviewed.

In total, almost 33 million Spaniards over 10 years old accessed the Internet in 2017, which represents an increase of 4% compared to 2016. As for people in the age group of 16-74 years, 86% of them accessed the Internet sometime during the last year and 23.7 million Spaniards connected daily. The percentage of Internet users has increased, especially those who accessed the last month (+ 4%).


In the oldest population (65-74 years), almost four out of ten people connect to the Internet weekly, compared to more than 96% of people aged 16-24. As for the people who connect weekly, almost half (47.66%) belong to the group of people aged 35-54.

The age is clearly a decisive factor when it comes to accessing the internet and the difference between the youngest and the oldest is more than double. The fewer years the user has, the more likely they are to connect to the internet.

Work situation

Regarding the Internet user’s work situation, almost all students (98.9%) connect weekly, while in the group of pensioners, 46% browse the Internet at least once a week. Almost half (48.3%) of people who connect weekly work for others.

The user’s work situation also affects the periodicity with which accesses the internet. Probably the students are those who have more free time, that is why it is the most connected group, followed very closely by all types of workers (other accounts and own account) and active unemployed. It is the groups responsible for household chores and pensioners who have the least access, around half.


Almost all people (97.5%) who have university studies access to the Internet weekly, compared to 44% who only have primary education. Even so, this last group of primary education has increased by 4% over the previous year.

The level of studies does not make a big difference when it comes to Internet access, except for one exception. The group with the lowest level is primary education, which is very far from the rest and its access is half in relation to others.

The population groups (that have connected at some time) that have grown the most are those with primary education (+ 11.2%), people dedicated to housework (+ 10.9%) and population between 55-74 years old(+8.1) %).


Taking into account the number of inhabitants of the population, the gap is not as big as in other sociodemographic indicators. There is only a difference of 13 points between the municipalities of less than 10,000 inhabitants (72.9%) and the capitals of more than 500,000 inhabitants (86.2%) that connect weekly to the Internet.

The infrastructure of networks for Internet access in Spain allows this service to reach almost all points of the geography, so the number of inhabitants is not a decisive factor, as can be seen in the small difference between the maximum and the minimum.

Net income per household

Unlike the previous part, in this indicator there is a greater distance between those who usually access and those who frequently do it. More than 97% of households with an income higher than 3,000€ are connected weekly, compared to almost 62% of households with a lower income of 900€.

Although there is a clear difference between the groups and it is confirmed that, the higher the income, the greater the number of connections, the access to the internet has become so necessary for day to day, that more than half of the houses with a very low income connect frequently to the internet.

Civil status

Taking into account the civil status of Internet users, the use among widowers has increased in the last year (51% logged in at some time and 44% weekly). Even so, it is still the group of people who least connects. More than twice of single people access the internet weekly versus widows.

Although singles are the ones who access most the internet, the difference between married, separated and divorced is not excessively big, only with widows there is really a significant gap. It is probably a question associated with the age of the user and not strictly with the marital status.

Analysis of digital capabilities

In order to study digital capabilities, an indicator has been created with four different competencies (information, communication, problem solving and content manipulation software). These indicators are valued on 3 levels: zero (if you are not able to perform any of the tasks), basic (if you perform one of the actions) and superior (if you perform more than one).

First of all we comment on the information indicator, which consists of copying or moving files or folders, saving files in the cloud and finding information on the Internet about public administration, about goods or services and related to health. More than half of the users (68.7%) have a superior competence than the basic, while 22.1% have no competence in this respect.

In relation to the communication indicator, which consists of sending and receiving emails, participate in social networks, make calls or video calls over the internet and upload personally created content to the web, almost six out of ten users (59.5%) have a higher competence than the basic, while 23% have none.

Now we investigate the problem resolution indicator, which consists of transferring files between PCs and devices, installing software and applications, changing software settings, making purchases and sales online and use online banking and educational resources. Just over half of users (53.8%) have a superior competence than the basic, while 17.5% is simply basic.

Finally, we talk about the software indicator. It consists of using the word processor, spreadsheets and photo editor, videos or audios and know how to create presentations, texts with images, advanced functions of spreadsheets and write code in programming language. We find that the number of people with superior competence than the basic (41.8%) is almost identical to the numbers who have none (42.1%).

Of all the digital capabilities, the most extended one is that of information management, with 68.7% of users presenting a superior level. The communication and problem solving capacities share a similar percentage of users with a superior level (53%). The least extended capacity of all is the development of software activities, since 42.1% of Internet users do not have this type of ability.

In the global indicator, we see that three out of ten people (31.4%) have a superior competence than the basic, 23.3% is basic, 28% below basic and 17.3% has none.

In general, more than half of the population (54.7%) has basic or superior knowledge. The trend is positive, since there is an increase of 1.4% compared to 2016 for people with superior abilities and a decrease of 6% of those who had no capacity.

Regarding the sociodemographic categories within the capacities: women have more presence at low levels and men in higher levels. In age there are big differences, young people (16-24 years old) occupy 61.4% of the superior capacities, and while in the category without skills, 59.3% are people aged 65-74 years.

Students have higher abilities (67.5% of that group), followed by the active population. The pensioners and people dedicated to housework have a smaller presence. As for the studies, the higher the educational level, the greater the digital capacities; the same happens with the incomes and the size of the population in which they reside, although in the latter the difference is smaller than in the rest of the categories.

Technology in homes with children

In relation to the technological equipment of households with children, seven out of ten children (69.1%) of 10-15 years have a mobile phone and almost all (92.4%) have accessed the Internet in the last three months. The preferred place of access is from their homes (93.6%), followed by the study center (67.5%).

There is a big difference in the availability of mobile phone  according to the age of the children. From 10-12 years, only 47.9% have a mobile phone, while in the 13-15 year range it has 90.2%. But we didn’t find so much difference between ages in the use of the internet. 91.8% of 10-12 years use the Internet and 98.3% of children between 13-15 years.

After this analysis of the data offered by the ONTSI study, it is clear that access to the internet depends on many sociodemographic factors. Although there are many strata that still do not connect in mass periodically, the data compared from 2017 with previous year’s show that progress is being made in this regard.

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