On March 12, the Web -- aka The World Wide Web -- turns 25. On Thursday, a new report from the Pew Research Internet Project gave some sense of how this youngster has impacted the US.
Eighty-seven percent of American adults are on the Net, nearly 70 percent through mobile devices. In households earning at least $75,000, 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).
The measured impact is similarly high. Ninety percent of users told Pew the Net “has been a good thing for them personally.” Only 6 percent said it’s been a bad thing. On a societal level, 76 percent said it has been positive and 15 percent said negative.
Together or Apart?
More than half of Internet users said it would be “very hard” to give it up, a big jump from the 38 percent who said that in 2006. Nearly half of all cell phone owners said the same thing about their cell phones. By comparison, only 35 percent of all adults would find it hard to give up their TVs.
Only 28 percent of landline phone owners said it would be hard to give up that device, but a look back to 2006 shows how the landline is losing its influence. At that time, nearly half -- 48 percent -- said it would be very hard to part with their wired phones. Only 17 percent of Americans now said it would hard to give up landlines.
Of those who would find it hard to give up the Internet, 61 percent reported it was essential for their jobs or other reasons, with nearly 40 percent of Americans saying it would be difficult to permanently log off the Web.
Have online communications brought people closer together, or become another barrier between them? Pew found that 67 percent of Internet users said their relationships with family and friends have been generally strengthened because of online communication, compared to 18 percent who said it has weakened those bonds.
There’s also the well-known issue of online anonymity or remote communication breeding the worst in human behavior. Seventy-six percent of Net users said that people have been “mostly kind” in their online interactions, while 13 percent said their encounters were “mostly unkind.”
In fact, more than half -- 56 percent -- said they have seen an online group come together to help a person or a community solve a problem, while 25 percent said they have left an online group because the interactions became too heated or people became unpleasant.
The report, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates for Pew, took place from January 9 to 12. Phone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish with 1006 adults aged 18 or older.