Nearly half (46%) of American adults said that Internet would be the most difficult technology to go without, with mobiles a close second and TV in third place, according to a new study from Pew Research.
Just a few years ago, Americans were more willing to give up Internet in order to keep TV, the research found.
Surprisingly, 17% of Americans still aren’t willing to give up their landlines, which sheds some more light on last year’s report that 71% of U.S. households still use landline phones (as of 2011).
In a new national survey to mark the 25th anniversary of the Web, Pew Research finds further confirmation of the incredible spread and impact of the internet.
87% of American adults now use the internet, with near-saturation usage among those living in households earning $75,000 or more (99%), young adults ages 18-29 (97%), and those with college degrees (97%). Fully 68% of adults connect to the internet with mobile devices like smartphones or tablet computers.
The adoption of related technologies has also been extraordinary: Over the course of Pew Research Center polling, adult ownership of cell phones has risen from 53% in our first survey in 2000 to 90% now. Ownership of smartphones has grown from 35% when we first asked in 2011 to 58% now.
Asked for their overall judgment about the impact of the internet, toting up all the pluses and minuses of connected life, the public’s verdict is overwhelmingly positive:
90% of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for them personally and only 6% say it has been a bad thing, while 3% volunteer that it has been some of both.
76% of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for society, while 15% say it has been a bad thing and 8% say it has been equally good and bad.
Digital technology is viewed as increasingly essential
We asked the adults who use basic technologies whether it would be hard to give them up and users of the internet and mobile phones made clear those technologies feel increasingly essential, while more traditional technologies like landline phones and television are becoming easier to part with:
53% of internet users say the internet would be, at minimum, “very hard” to give up, compared with 38% in 2006. That amounts to 46% of all adults who now say the internet would be very hard to give up.
49% of cell phone owners say the same thing about their cell, up from to 43% in 2006. That amounts to 44% of all adults who now say cell phones would be very hard to give up.
Overall, 35% of all adults say their television would be very hard to give up, a share that has dipped from 44% who said that in 2006.
28% of landline telephone owners say their phone would be very hard to give up, a major drop from 2006 when 48% of landline owners said it would be very hard to give up their wired phone. That amounts to 17% of all adults who now say their landline phones would be very hard to give up.
In addition to this enthusiasm, a notable share of Americans say the internet is essential to them. Among those internet users who said it would be very hard to give up net access, most (61% of this group) said being online was essential for job-related or other reasons. Translated to the whole population, about four in ten adults (39%) feel they absolutely need to have internet access. Among those most deeply tied to the internet, about half as many (some 30%) said it would be hard to give up access because they simply enjoy being online.
Read the full research here
About this survey
The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from January 9-12, 2014, among a sample of 1,006 adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline and cell phone. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. For results based on internet users (N=857), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.