Although Finland is known as a country with a deep love for spending time outdoors — after all, who could blame them with such beautiful scenery — the amount of time the average Finn spends outside is often reduced as soon as the winter rolls in.
In times gone by, popular indoor activities during the winter consisted of things like reading books by the many great Finnish authors and, of course, plenty of sauna time. In the digital age, Finns have been quickly diversifying their pastimes.
The shift to digital pastimes has undoubtedly been aided by the rapid digitalization of the country as a whole. This has included ensuring Finnish citizens have access to high-speed internet as a basic right, even delivering fiber optic broadband to remote areas. With a whopping 95% of the population having ready access to high-speed internet, it is easy to see why they spend so much time online these days.
With the internet becoming more and more important in Finns’ daily lives, what are the most popular ways they spend their time online?
Esports and gaming
In a 2017 survey that measured the popularity of 63 different sports among 18 to 29-year-olds, esports came second only to ice hockey. If you know anything about the importance of ice hockey to Finns, you know how big a development this is.
Much like in other parts of the world, Finns have picked up esports enthusiastically in recent years. For an internet-savvy country such as Finland, it is little surprise that Finnish esports players are already establishing themselves. Some notable Finnish esports players include leading DOTA 2 and Counterstrike players, as well as a number of esports teams who have climbed the rankings for various online games in recent years.
In fact, Finland takes esports so seriously, that they have even been officially recognized as professional athletes by the Finnish tax authorities. This means that they can benefit from the same social benefits and tax breaks that other professional athletes do when their career comes to an end.
Although online casinos are popular across many of the Nordic countries, they are particularly popular with Finns. Despite having very few physical casinos in the country, online casinos have exploded in popularity in recent years.
Finns also have high standards for their online entertainment. Market leaders such as Betsson casino tend to better cater to the tastes of the population, thanks to their high-quality user interfaces and wide game offerings. And a big name helps a lot in the Finnish market.
This is because the casino industry in Finland is also highly regulated, which has increased the levels of customer trust across the industry. This has helped the transition to online casino gaming in particular, which benefits from the higher level of regulation.
All of this combines to make online casinos one of the most popular ways for Finns to spend time online.
eCommerce and online shopping
There has been a slow but steady transition to online shopping over the last number of years. Particularly in the last year, there has been an explosion in the number of individuals shopping online.
Finland has not been spared this trend. Much like many other individuals around the world, one increasingly popular way to spend time online for many Finns is online shopping.
In 2017 alone, the national Finnish business-to-consumer eCommerce turnover reached a whopping €9.8 billion, a 15% rise over the previous year. Given the widespread access to internet across Finland, we can only expect this number to continue to rise in the coming years.
As with both young and old internet users around the world, an increasing amount of our socializing is done online these days. This has been facilitated by the explosion of social media platforms over the last decade or so, which have become a pervasive feature of our social lives.
Social media penetration has increased significantly in recent years. Survey data released in 2017 indicated that 66% of the Finnish population aged between 18 and 64 was active on social networks. However, as of 2021 this has increased to a staggering 80.4% of the total population. This makes for 4.46m citizens out of a total 5.531m, which represents a high level of penetration.
eLearning and education
Although Finland is known to be a world leader when it comes to in-person teaching and schooling — at least according to OECD reports — Finns have also proved to be keen learners in the online space. As edutech and online learning platforms become increasingly popular, Finns are once again leading the charge into the digital age.
According to a 2019 report published by EuroStat, across the EU, an average of 8% of people had taken part in an online learning course within the last three months. Among Finnish people, however, the figure rose to 21%, which is the highest out of any of the EU countries surveyed.