More than half of all Europeans are now regularly using the Internet, according to a study released Tuesday that highlights the emergence of a new "digital generation".
According to a European Commission report, 56 percent of Europeans had become regular Internet users in 2008, a jump of one third since 2004. Half of all households and more than 80 percent of businesses had a broadband connection.
The biggest users were those aged under 24, with 66 percent of them surfing the web every day compared with only 43 percent of the rest of the EU population.
Of those aged 16-24, 73 percent had used file sharing services on the Internet, double the European average.
"A new generation of Europeans mastering the web and ready to apply its innovations is coming on stage," the commission said in its report. "These 'digital natives' hold great potential for Europe's growth."
These young users also stand out from the rest of the population in their attitude towards the payment of online content, the report said. They perceive many of the services and content to be free of charge or simply provided as part of a flat-rate Internet connection fee.
The study showed that 33 percent of young people say that they are not willing to pay anything at all, which is twice the EU average.
While the "digital generation" seems reluctant to pay for video or music content, in reality twice as many of them have paid for these services compared to the rest of the population (10 percent of young users, compared to an EU average of five percent).
"They are also more willing to pay for offers of better service and quality," the report said.