According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, an analysis of broadband usage and the influence of this technology on our society, it is clear that our reliance on the internet has taken some surprising turns in the past decade. According to the study conducted by Pew Research Center, broadband usage among adults has increased from single digit percentages in 2000 to 60% in 2011. Seventy-eight percent of all adults currently use the internet. This is expected to increase as DSL and cable internet service providers expand their networks into what has historically been considered rural areas.
Two-thirds of adults use social networking sites, and view their interactions as positive, and in some cases a necessity to stay in touch and communicate. Utilizing search engines to find information and email are the universal activities that 92% of us consider to be the most important online activities. And 80% of us are affiliated and active with online groups or organizations, compared to 56% of non-internet users.
Technology is taking academia by storm as textbooks become available to students in a digital format, and online classroom offerings are become the rule rather than the exception. Universities are providing students with online tools to facilitate this unique, convenient and cost-effective learning environment, especially in the technology-related fields.
Our appetite for news hasn’t changed, but the venues have shifted from newspapers, news magazines and television sources to online information-based sources. Not only that, but we can pick and choose what news is important to us and what we would rather leave alone. Local news is falling by the wayside as we clamor for national and international topics. News blogs and editorials have grown in popularity as a way for us to hear opinions of the talking heads and even respond with our own comments in a more interactive manner.
We are also demanding breaking news, so the media’s resources are shifting to give us what we want. The web disseminates the news in record speed, and we now find ourselves being less influenced in our ideas by standard journalists, while other sources including government, think tanks, companies, and activists influence what we consume.
Whether these findings reflect business, academic or social involvement, or more likely a blurred combination of the three, what is crystal clear is that the internet has dramatically influenced how we communicate, interact, socialize, learn, invest, shop, pay, entertain ourselves, and work. It is likely that as innovations continue to advance and impact our life, this will continue to increase.
Because this tool is quickly becoming a necessity to interact in our national and global marketplace, we look to broadband companies to provide connections with the necessary speed, reliability, service, and safety needed to engage in everything that the internet has to offer us. And what better way to find internet providers by zip code than to turn the ‘net to help us research what’s available to us and help us make a good decision.