The impact of COVID-19 on Australian adults’ online experiences


For many Australians, social distancing and isolation during COVID-19 has triggered a dramatic lifestyle change with increased reliance on the internet for day-to-day activities such as working, communicating, entertainment and shopping.

This research report, based on a survey of 1,229 adults, provides a unique snapshot of the impact COVID-19 restrictions have had on Australians’ online behaviours and attitudes. It also highlights some of the challenges relating to online safety and digital competency that we face in becoming more dependent on online interactions.

Key highlights relating to online experiences during lockdown include:

  • Australians usage of the internet for one or more tasks increased by 56 per cent.
  • Nearly four in 10 Australians had a negative experience online during the first few months of the pandemic including receiving unwanted messages or contact (26%), being sent unwanted inappropriate content (12%) and having things said online to provoke an argument (8%).
  • Despite these negative experiences, Australians viewed the internet as important or essential during the COVID-19 lockdown, particularly for paying bills and banking (87%), accessing news and information (82%), staying in touch with family and friends (80%), work (75%), entertainment (71%), staying fit and healthy (44%), and buying groceries (39%).