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We Still (Mostly) Like the Internet

A Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted in January 2018 finds the vast majority of internet users (88%) say the internet has been a mostly good thing for them personally.

However, Americans are somewhat more ambivalent about the impact of digital connectivity on society as a whole. A majority of online adults (70%) believe the internet has been a good thing for society. The share of online adults saying this has declined by 6 percentage points since early 2014, when the Center first asked the question.

This shift in opinion regarding the ultimate social impact of the internet is particularly stark among older Americans. Today 64% of online adults ages 65 and older say the internet has been a mostly good thing for society. That represents a 14-point decline from the 78% who said this in 2014. The attitudes of younger adults have remained more consistent over that time: 74% of internet users ages 18 to 29 say the internet has been mostly good for society, comparable to the 79% who said so in 2014.

 

Positive Views Are Tied to Information Access and Connecting with Others

Those who think the internet has had a good impact on society tend to focus on two key issues:

  • 62% of those with a positive view mentioned how the internet makes information much easier and faster to access
  • 23% of those with a positive view mentioned the ability to connect with other people

By contrast, those who think the internet is a bad thing for society gave a wider range of reasons for their opinions:

  • 25% say the internet isolates people from each other or encourages them to spend too much time with their devices
  • 14% cite concerns about its effect on children
  • 13% believe it encourages illegal activity
  • 5% have privacy concerns or worries about sensitive personal information being available online

Many are Smartphone Internet Users at Home

One-in-five Americans (20%) are now “smartphone only” internet users at home. They own a smartphone but do not subscribe to traditional broadband service for home use. This represents a 7-point increase over 2015.

As has consistently been true in past surveys conducted by Pew, those who rely on their smartphones for home internet service are less likely to have attended college compared with those with traditional broadband service. They also report living in lower-income households.

Also, 15% of Americans indicate that they have neither broadband service at home nor a smartphone. A large share of this group is not online at all.

See the full Pew report.

Online, All the Time

Does it seem like just about everyone is online all the time? Apparently, they are.

Overall, 77% of Americans go online on a daily basis, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January 2018.

  • 26% go online almost constantly
  • 43% go online several times a day
  • 8% go online about once a day
  • 11% go online several times a week or less often

As of 2018, just 11% of US adults say they do not use the internet at all.

Adults with mobile connectivity are especially likely to be online a lot. Among the 83% of Americans who use the internet at least occasionally using a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device – 89% go online daily and 31% go online almost constantly.

Roughly four-in-ten 18- to 29-year-olds (39%) now go online almost constantly and 49% go online multiple times per day.

Americans ages 30 to 49 are now about as likely as younger adults to use the internet almost constantly (36% versus 39%). The number of constantly online Americans ages 50 to 64 has risen from 12% to 17%.

Other demographic groups that report going online frequently include college-educated adults, black adults, adults who live in higher-income households and non-rural residents.

  • 34% of adults with a college education or more go online almost constantly, 92% go online daily
  • 20% of adults with a high school education or less go online frequently.
  • The share of blacks who are almost constantly online has risen 14 points since 2015, while the share of Hispanics who say this has gone up by 11 points. Among whites, there has been little change.

For more of the latest data, visit the Pew Research Center website.

Not Dead Yet!

The headlines catch our eye. Millennials are moving away from social media, says the NY Post. Twitter is dying. While there is a kernel of truth to be had, the latest data from Pew makes it clear that social media will continue to be important for marketing and communication for years to come.

The latest annual social media survey of U.S. adults finds that the social media landscape is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and emerging narratives. Pew began surveying about the use of different social media in 2012

Facebook and YouTube continue to dominate. Younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) embrace a variety of platforms and use them frequently.

2018Pew

Facebook is the primary platform for 68 percent of Americans. About three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. A majority of Americans across  all demographic groups except 65+ now use Facebook.

YouTube is now used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds.

The share of social media users who say these platforms would be hard to give up has increased by 12 percentage points compared with a survey conducted in early 2014. But, 59% say it would not be hard to stop using these sites, including 29% who say it would not be hard at all to give up social media.

More Insights

  • 68% of U.S. adults are Facebook users
  • Other than YouTube, no other social media sites or apps are used by more than 40% of American
  • There continues to be substantial differences in social media use by age group and even within age groups

The report offers rich insight by platform and by user demographics. This is my go to resource as I research effective platforms for clients all year.