COVID-19 impact on Australian adults’ online activities and attitudes

July 7, 2020


Australia’s COVID-19 social distancing and isolation measures have led to significant changes in the way we live, triggering dramatic lifestyle changes for families and individuals across the country. One of the most notable changes is our increased dependence on the internet to maintain social and economic connections. 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 we face in becoming more dependent on online interactions. Key highlights relating to online experiences during lockdown include:

  • Australians using the internet a lot more 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%).

Key findings

This research shows that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Australians’ online activity — and what people see as essential online services.

Key findings include:

  • The overwhelming majority of adults in Australia see the internet as a ‘good thing’ personally (86%), for their household in general (85%) and for Australian society (79%).
  • There has been a significant increase in online activity driven by use of the internet to:
    • stay up-to-date with news and health information (30% report having done this ‘a lot more’)
    • work — 27%
    • to watch videos — 27%
    • to access social media for entertainment — 25%
    • make video calls with family and friends — 23%.

Download the research report to find out more.

Publisher's website.

Price: FREE

About the Provider

eSafety Commissioner
The eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) is Australia’s independent regulator for online safety. We are the world’s first government agency dedicated to keeping people safer online. We started our operations in 2015 and we have remained at the forefront of the fight against online abuse and harm ever since.


COVID-19, Online behaviours, Online Experiences, online safety