Use the Internet? Join the Crowd: 87 Percent of American Adults Are Internet Users

By Steve Anderson February 27, 2014

A new study out from Pew Research both confirms and educates on a topic that's near and dear to many: the Internet in the United States. From those who play games to those who read informative news articles like this one, there's a greater fraternity than some may have realized. While many likely knew on an elemental level that the Internet was, indeed, a very big deal, the Pew Research study put a number to that elemental concept and revealed that fully 87 percent of adults in the United States are Internet users.

The Pew Research study took a sample of 1,000 American adults, and discovered that 87 percent of same were, as noted, Internet users. Breaking the demographics down further, meanwhile, showed that there were parts of this already impressive total that were even more pronounced than the ordinary. For instance, in households with at least $75,000 in income, Internet use was up to 99 percent. Adults aged 19-29 weighed in at 97 percent of the total, and the same number was counted among those with college degrees.

Mobile devices are also, not surprisingly, used to make the connection to the Internet by many. 68 percent of those in the polling did so, and ownership of cell phones in general reached 90 percent, particularly impressive when one considers that the number was down to 53 percent in Pew's first such Internet survey back in 2000. Smartphone ownership was likewise up, reaching 58 percent in this year's study from just 35 percent in the 2011 version.

But the Pew Research study also took note of attitudes about the Internet, and overwhelmingly, Web access was regarded as a good thing. 90 percent of those polled called it good for the respondents specifically, while just six percent called it bad outright. Three percent called it a mixed blessing, and 76 percent called it a boon to society in general. 15 percent, meanwhile, called it a bane on society, and the mixed blessing crowd stepped up on the societal topic at eight percent. Indeed, 53 percent of those surveyed said it would be “very hard” to give up the Internet, with issues of profession most often cited.

What's more, while the Internet can be a scary place—25 percent of users reported being attacked online or otherwise treated unkindly, and another 25 percent said that an online group had gotten too hostile to comfortably remain part of—it's also been shown quite friendly, as significantly larger numbers reported that kindness and generosity were part of the experience for 70 percent of users, and 56 percent could say that an online group had been seen helping either a person or a community.

Admittedly, some of this isn't exactly new. A large portion of Americans using the Internet was the kind of thing that was general knowledge, even if the new-found numbers do a nice job of putting a face to the name, so to speak. We have video about this and many other topics available at this link.

It's also interesting to note how many users had a positive experience online as opposed to a negative—positive outweighs negative by at least two to one, and more depending on how the data is applied—which itself has some noteworthy implications, particularly for anyone who believed that the Internet required more policing. There are pluses and minuses, of course, as is the case with most everything in life. But the Internet is seeming to prove a fairly large plus. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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