Internet Is Turning 25, But Not Everyone Is Celebrating

Lee Rannals for – Your Universe Online

According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of Internet users believe the World Wide Web has been bad for society.

The Internet will be turning 25 years old this year, but the latest survey sheds light on how not everyone is as appreciative about the creation of the global cyber network as most have been.

“Using the Web—browsing it, searching it, sharing on it—has become the main activity for hundreds of millions of people around the globe. Its birthday offers an occasion to revisit the ways it has made the internet a part of Americans’ social lives,” Pew said in a report marking the 25th anniversary of the Internet.

According to the new survey, 87 percent of American adults now use the Internet, while the Web has saturated 99 percent of American households making $75,000 per year or more. They also saw that 68 percent of adults connect to the Internet with smartphones or tablets.

Pew said that over the course of its polling, it has seen adult ownership of cell phones jump from 53 percent in 2000 to 90 percent now. Smartphone ownership has grown from 35 percent in 2011 to 58 percent now.

The survey asked respondents whether it would be hard to give up their technologies and found that those who use the Internet and smartphones feel like their devices are increasingly essential. However, respondents who use more traditional technologies like landlines and televisions are less reluctant to give up their respective devices.

This Internet obsession has grown over the last eight years, according to Pew.

The survey found that 53 percent of Internet users say it would be at minimum “very hard” to give up the Internet, while in 2006 this number was just at 38 percent. Overall, 46 percent of all adults say that the Internet would be very hard to give up.

“In addition to this enthusiasm, a notable share of Americans say the internet is essential to them,” Pew said. “Among those internet users who said it would be very hard to give up net access, most said being online was essential for job-related or other reasons.”

When considering the whole US population, about four in ten adults feel they absolutely need to have Internet access.

Lastly, Pew asked participants: “Overall, when you add up all the advantages and disadvantages of the internet, would you say the internet has mostly been a good thing or a bad thing for society?” The survey found that 15 percent of respondents say the Internet has been bad for society, while 8 percent said it has been both good and bad.

While there’s always a critic, 76 percent of the US believes what Sir Tim Berners-Lee created in 1989 is a good thing. Since its inception, the Internet has connected the world in a way it never has before, opening up opportunities for a new generation that previous generations couldn’t have dreamed of.