Most Americans agree: The Internet isn’t destroying society

The World Wide Web turns 25 on March 12, and the Pew Research Center has released the first in a series of surveys gauging how U.S. residents view and use the now-pervasive technology. 76% say it has been good for society on the whole, while 90% say it has been good for them personally.

Amy Dusto

Americans too young to drive, vote or even drink alcohol today may not clearly remember a time when friendships didn’t boom and bust within Facebook’s blue borders or when last-minute Christmas shopping meant speeding to an overcrowded mall and elbowing your way through a store to snag the last of that year’s hottest toy off the shelf. But they probably agree with the majority of U.S. adults who say life is better with the ease of online shopping and constant connectivity.

When asked, in adding up all the pros and cons, whether the Internet is overall a good or bad thing for society, 76% of U.S. adults in a Pew Research Center survey say it’s “a good thing.” On a personal level, even more of them agree—a full 90% of U.S. adults say the Internet is, overall, a positive force in their individual existences.

The World Wide Web is turning 25 this year on March 12, according to Pew. To celebrate its anniversary, the research center is releasing a series of reports about emerging trends in digital technology. The first one, released today, is “The Web at 25.” Its results are based on telephone surveys of 1,006 adults in the continental United States, conducted in English and Spanish between Jan. 9 and 12, 2014.

86% of American adults use the Internet, and 71% of them do so at least once on a typical day, the survey revealed. “This is a significant increase from the year 2000, our first measure, when just 29% of all adults said they went online on a typical day,” Pew writes in the report. The number of Internet users accessing the web from home has been on the rise, with 90% of survey respondents reporting they go online from their homes on a normal day, up from 76% in 2000. Meanwhile, not many more access the Internet from work on a regular day—44% of survey respondents say they go online at work today versus 41% in 2000, according to the report.

Additionally, 58% of U.S. adults in the survey say they have a smartphone. Owners are more likely to have higher education and be younger than 50, Pew says. More broadly, 68% of all survey respondents say they access the web on a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device at least occasionally.


e-commerce, industry statistics, mobile commerce, Pew, web use