Lee Rainie of the Pew Internet group reports on his group’s recent studies. But first he fools us by pointing to the effects of this new technology, except it turns out to be from Elizabeth Eisenstein’s study of the effect of the printing press.
136M American adults now use the Internet. That’s 67% of Americans. 87% of teen-agers. 50% of home owners have broadband. In a typical day, 82M Americans will be on line. 71M of those use email…9x the number of people who use the postal system. 41M used a search engine. Broadband teenagers are more likely to get their news online. 14M did online banking, 5x the number who visited a bank. 4M googled someone they were about to meet; 1M googled themselves.
79M have participated in online support groups for a medical or personal problem. 7M have made political donations. 5-88M swapped files even as the Supreme Court was hearing the case.
There were 9 gaps. Only the gender gap has vanished.
Most important: Age.
Employment status: Students rule.
Education: More important than income as an indicator of Internet use
Disability: Only 38% of those with a significant disability use the Internet
Language: English is an indicator
Community type: Ruralites are less likely to be online than urbanites
Parental: Parented households are more likely
Race and ethnicity: Less significant than other indicators.
How does connectivity change us?
People who use the Internet “grow their social capital.” People (especially women) use email to enhance their social networks. 84% of Internet users belong to online groups — that’s 115M people. “ePatients are creating a new healthcare model where the all-knowing, omnipotent, gate-keeping doctor is being replaced by a new model — online advice and support. (Half of the people doing medical research online are looking for info for someone.) And there is an increase in civic engagement.
He does point to a down side: Evidence shows heavy use of the Net can cause stress. Not to mention bad people doing bad things via the Net.
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