You’ve spent most of your life with an active online connection, but have you ever taken a look back at how your online life has changed? And not just being online, but how your reliance on staying connected has changed? From online classrooms to gaming and dating, scrolling social media, using a sat-nav in your car, staying connected to family across the world, working from home, and, in some cases, life support systems. Is it possible to imagine your world disconnected from the Internet?

As children – An emerging perspective of an online world

Do you remember dial-up when you were a kid? How about having to come off the Internet while your mum was on the phone to her friend, interrupting that game level you had nearly reached?

Today’s children will never know what it was like without Internet access being available 24/7. Impact on children’s lives. How do your children use the Internet compared to when you were their age? The Internet’s purpose has evolved, from the early days of finding the phone number of a company on their website, learning how to ping or linking online from Encarta, to becoming one of the first interactions with learning, shopping and social interests. Broadband has opened up many opportunities, ranging from storybooks on Audible to catch-up TV for CBeebies, here are a variety of things the children of today use broadband for:

🌐 Online learning tools – unsurprisingly, crucial in today’s climate.

🌐 Tutorials on YouTube, Vimeo, BBC Bitesize and more, if there’s something to learn it can be learnt online.

🌐 Reading and writing skills learnt from apps utilising the Internet. Gone are colouring books & gone are drawing pads now that there are apps and tablets for anything children need.

🌐 Teacher to child communication, especially during the first lockdown.

🌐 Showing off to their family on video calls, listening to a bedtime story from nan and grandad over Facetime or Zooming a parent who might be away on business.

🌐 Playing games like Roblox online with their friends using websites or apps on mobiles, tablets or computers.

🌐 YouTube videos and series for entertainment – there is an entire YouTube children’s section just for this.

🌐 Disney Plus and other subscription services, with their seemingly endless supply of children’s TV shows and movies that take even you back to your childhood.


Our tweeners & young teenagers – Taking their first steps into the Matrix (old is new again) 

Expression and exploration are easily in reach for tweeners and teenagers of today. At the press of a button, (and with their parent’s permission) they can find friends across the world who share their interests.

Early chat tools like ICQ paved the way for Instant Messenger and the WhatsApp’s of today while online games like Quake broke new ground for today’s all-immersive shooters, open worlds and role players. Of course, parental regulations and guidelines make this a safer environment than ever before, but it’s a simple fact that today’s youth have grown up with online culture as second nature.

Although they might not know it yet, this generations reliance on broadband access is growing faster and is more critical than ever! Some of the top activities tweeners use broadband for are:

🌐 Social platforms, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Periscope, the social site list is endless.

🌐 Video calling, messaging or gaming with friends and family using a variety of connected devices.

🌐 Creating content – TikTok dance-alongs, releasing music or videos on YouTube and developing these talents.

🌐 Education – communicating with teachers and pupils, online tests, research and reading.

🌐 Reading on a Kindle, smartphone or tablet.

🌐 Accessing news and current affairs, from the MTV app to Twitter, to BBC News.

🌐 Watching what they want, when they want because they can access great content at the click of a button.

🌐 Gaming on their PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, phone or tablet.

🌐 Spending pocket money/allowance (or your money) at their favourite online shops.


Young adults at College and University – Bright Eyed and Unjaded

Young adults of Generation Z are often referred to as ‘digital natives’ as their lives are thought to (mostly by their parents) revolve around the Internet and technology. This age group haven’t known it any other way. It’s also common knowledge that Gen Z are the main online information accessors.

Growing up with open virtual worlds in Grand Theft Auto, World of Warcraft, Second Life or Myspace, music in Spotify on-demand and the answer to every question they could ever ask at the press of a button, or an ‘OK, Google’  has changed how this generation interacts with the internet. Of course, the development throughout their lifetime of platforms like Netflix, Amazon, even cloud storage has changed the way these generations value content and access it. Gone are physical photos printed from film and gone are DVD movie rentals – this generation live online, they buy online, they play online and they connect online.

Young adults can’t do without:

🌐 Streaming on Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and many more.

🌐 Broadening social circles through staying in touch digitally, that’s Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, (the list is almost endless).

🌐 Online tutorials and Ted Talks, from Google Digital Garage to Eventbrite and Masterclass

🌐 Gaming on the new Xbox Series X or PS5.

🌐 Using the cloud to store photos of people and places, and the inevitable university nights out that may not be remembered in the morning.

🌐 Accessing books online that might not be available in a library, or during the current climate, whilst it’s shut.

🌐 Finding first love with online dating via Bumble, Tinder and Hinge..

🌐 Starting a new business – Facebook was founded at university.


The 20s – Energetic, Ready and Waiting

Given that in today’s world, the process of finding a job tends to begin online, access to great Internet at this stage in life is vital. Broadband is also key to an active social and family life (especially in 2020). These younger Millennials can remember, just, to the days when the Internet changed their world. From Yahoo searches to Google’s algorithms, they have lived through this online expansion first-hand.

So what makes brilliant bandwidth at this point in life crucial?

🌐 Sharing videos and pics of holidays, events and fun moments, with friends and family across the world.

🌐 Video calling those friends and family on Facebook, WhatsApp or Zoom when they can’t be with them.

🌐 To find and apply for their first job, or a new job, and using LinkedIn and career networking tools to enhance career opportunities.

🌐 Working from coffee shops, pubs and cafes.

🌐 Access to events, concerts, and information about them, both in the flesh and virtual.

🌐 Dating on apps such as Bumble, Tinder and Hinge.

🌐 Managing money, saving for the future, buying shares or getting a mortgage.

🌐 Keeping up with a friend’s activities on social media even if you like it or not.

🌐 Looking for and finding their flatshare and their first home with a brilliant broadband connection.

🌐 Working from home, uploading files, downloading files and working in the cloud just like Alex below 

It’s clear that younger generations rely on staying connected to the internet. It’s a simple fact that a growing number of us are relying on being connected to live our daily lives. As such we need broadband that’s both reliable, fast and futureproof for what the next few decades bring us. Broadband ready to keep us connected as virtual reality becomes a regular reality, as game consoles require downloading or streaming increasingly bigger game files, as working from home becomes ‘the new normal’ and as life gets even more connected.

In part 2 we’ll explore the 30s and beyond, through middle age and retirement, we’ll discover how with more of us spending the majority of our time at home our broadband connection is even more important than ever at keeping us connected to the people we love, to the work we do and the lives we live: From a movie night in, to job hunting, from Zoom quizzes to work team calls.