2John B. Horrigan The purpose of this chapter is to outline the scope
and patterns of Internet usage among Americans
as seen through the eyes of the Pew Internet and
American Life Project, which has conducted periodic surveys of Americans’ Internet use since early
2000. The series of studies produced by the Pew
Internet Project has, with one exception, provided
snapshots of respondents’ online behavior. This
series has the advantage of pursuing a wide range
of topics and identifying trends over time. By producing research reports designed to appeal to a
broad swath of the interested public, press, and
policy makers, the objective of the Pew Internet
Project’s research is to provide unbiased information about the Internet and its effect on people’s
social lives. This research approach brings with it
limitations; namely, the ability to delve in depth
into some topics and, absent a panel of respondents, to pin down precisely the causal links between Internet use and outcomes in people’s lives.
Nonetheless, casting the net widely in a series of
research reports allows the Pew Internet Project to
see trends in net usage that yield insight into the
Internet’s effect on people’s lives.With this in mind, this chapter will summarize
the Pew Internet Project’s findings in the following
Portraits of American
Findings from the Pew Internet
and American Life Project
|• ||Social connectedness|
|• ||Online health care information|
|• ||Community and civic engagement|
|• ||How users shape the Internet|
Before proceeding, here are some basic facts
about Internet penetration and trends over the past
several years. When the Pew Internet Project conducted its first survey in March 2000, 46% of Americans 18 years of age and older identified themselves
as Internet users, meaning they had access at home,
work, or from some other place. At that time, 81%
of adult Americans had access at home and 48% at
work. By the end of 2003, 64% of American adults
had Internet access—88% at home and 52% at work;
about 4% of Internet users have Internet access only
at a place other than home or work. Throughout the
life of the project, between 50% and 60% of online
Americans say that they go online on the typical day,
a number that tends to fluctuate seasonally, with
fewer people logging on during the average day in
the summer months and more logging on in the
winter. For teens (ages 12 to 17 years), 73% were
online as of the end of 2000—a figure that rose to
79% by middle of 2003. Between teens and adults,
about 148 million Americans were Internet users by
the end of 2003.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Computers, Phones, and the Internet: Domesticating Information Technology.
Contributors: Robert Kraut - Editor, Malcolm Brynin - Editor, Sara Kiesler - Editor.
Publisher: Oxford University Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 2006.
Page number: 21.
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