Email continues to grow as top reason people use internet

Researching goods and services surpassed online banking as second most popular internet use in 2023

Email is still the top reason why people in Ireland use the internet, while finding out information about goods and services has surpassed mobile banking for the number two slot.

The Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) latest digital consumer behaviour survey carried out in the first three quarters of this year found that, in 2023, email was the most popular internet activity for 93 per cent of users – up from 91 per cent in 2022.

The 2023 results are the first since the pandemic that are completely unaffected by public health restrictions over the survey period.

Some 90 per cent of people used the internet to research goods and services in 2023, while the share of people purchasing online decreased marginally to 78 per cent (from 81 per cent in 2022).


Clothes, shoes, and accessories (including bags and jewellery) continue to be the most common purchase online, according to 69 per cent of internet users.

Online and mobile banking was the third most popular activity, as 88 per cent of people used online banking platforms (including PayPal, Revolut and Apple Pay).

Older internet users increased their use of internet banking, with 83 per cent of 60-74 year olds banking online, compared to 77 per cent a year ago.

More than a third (35 per cent) of people bought or renewed insurance policies online, while 7 per cent took out loans or mortgages or arranged credit through the internet.

Just 4 per cent of people traded shares, bonds or other financial assets online, with men three times as likely to carry out this activity – 6 per cent of men bought or sold shares or bonds online this year, compared to just 2 per cent of women.

Instant messaging via SMS or on platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram and Viber dropped from third to fourth most popular activity, as 86 per cent of people used the internet for this in 2023 compared with 89 per cent last year.

Some 71 per cent of internet users surveyed had used social media in the past three months to communicate with the likes of friends, family, work and school groups. Social media use was lowest among single adult households (60 per cent) and highest in homes with three or more adults and dependent children (93 per cent).

Almost one in five (19 per cent) internet users expressed opinions online, on websites or in social media, about civic or political issues. This rose to 28 per cent among 30-44 year olds who were most likely to express opinions online.

Use of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ or downloads increased in 2023, up to 48 per cent of internet users, compared with 43 per cent previously.

Ellen O'Regan

Ellen O’Regan

Ellen O’Regan is an Irish Times journalist.