To celebrate the upcoming 25th birthday of the World Wide Web on March 12 (when Sir Tim Berners-Lee published a paper that became the functional and spiritual blueprint for what became the Internet), Pew Research Internet Project conducted a series of surveys to find out how Americans use the Internet and how they feel about the web, both in their own lives and its effect on society.
“Using the Web—browsing it, searching it, sharing on it—has become the main activity for hundreds of millions of people around the globe,” the researchers at Pew begin.
As you may expect, we are extremely linked in to the web—but the numbers are still sort of surprising.
“87 percent of American adults now use the Internet,” Pew finds, “with near-saturation usage among those living in households earning $75,000 or more (99 percent), young adults ages 18-29 (97 percent), and those with college degrees (97 percent). Fully 68 percent of adults connect to the Internet with mobile devices like smartphones or tablet computers.”
Even with NSA surveillance, the Silk Road and the utter awfulness of most comment sections, Americans still believe that the Internet is good, both for their lives and for their world.
“90 percent of Internet users say the Internet has been a good thing for them personally and only 6 percent say it has been a bad thing, while 3 percent volunteer that it has been some of both,” according to Pew. “76 percent of Internet users say the Internet has been a good thing for society, while 15 percent say it has been a bad thing and 8 percent say it has been equally good and bad.”
The other obvious thing that Pew provides solid evidence for is that we’re pretty addicted to our Internet and our smartphones.
“53 percent of Internet users say the Internet would be, at minimum, ‘very hard’ to give up, compared with 38 percent in 2006,” Pew continues. “That amounts to 46 percent of all adults who now say the Internet would be very hard to give up. 49 percent of cellphone owners say the same thing about their cell, up from to 43 percent in 2006. That amounts to 44 percent of all adults who now say cell phones would be very hard to give up.”
What can Americans give up? They say their televisions (only 35 percent say it would be hard to give up) and their landline phones (a mere 28 percent, compared to 48 percent in 2006—back when you probably even had a landline).