Is living online good for our finances - or for society?

Living through the internet
Living through the internet

The average Brit hasn't visited a cinema in a year and a supermarket in a month. They've not been to the seaside for two years either, because technology means we're not leaving the house anywhere near as often as we used to.

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A study by found that 69% of us aren't getting beyond our front door as much as we did five years ago, and when asked why, 67% of people said it was the result of developments in technology. It also found that the average Brit hasn't been to a high street clothes shop in five months, or a bank branch for a year and nine months.

Good for us

On the one hand, in many cases this is great news for our finances. Rather than spending a small fortune at the cinema, 42% of people said they preferred to watch films through streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Given that 58% of them felt cinema ticket prices were off-putting, this has been a brilliant money-saving development.

Similarly, buying groceries online can be a great way to cut down on spending, because it helps control impulse purchases, and makes a big difference when shoppers are trying to stick to a list. Anyone with children also bypasses the whole issue of pester power - which can easily add extra chocolate, crisps or magazines to the shopping bill if you are forced to drag your offspring round the shops. It's partly why 76% of people said they preferred to buy their groceries online.

Online banking, meanwhile, is not only more convenient (71% agreed it was), it's also more effective. The vast majority of banking is carried out this way and it's easy to see why. Some 29% of people said it was easier to save and keep track of their money when they could see it all in one place online.

Bad for some

However, the tendency to avoid the real world isn't universally positive. There's a real risk that if too many people go online, there won't be enough custom to enable anyone to operate in the real world. This is bad news for small, independent traders, who are a vital part of any local high street, and rely on passing trade to make a living.

It's also a major worry for those people who don't want to go online. This is something we have seen happening to banking over the years. More people banking online has led to the closure of more and more of the high street banking network. For those people who don't have access to the internet, or aren't able to bank online, this leaves them trying to manage without a local branch.

Meanwhile, you have to ask whether it's terribly positive for society in general. Do we really want to live in a world where nobody bothers stepping outside into the real world, getting to know their neighbours or supporting local shops?

What do you think? Would you happily live entirely only? Let us know in the comments.