Study: Internet used by 56% of US population

The number of US citizens using the internet grew by 16 million in the second half of 2000, meaning the number of adults with access to the Internet in the US is 104 million or 56% of the US adult population

          The number of US citizens using the internet grew by 16 million in the second half of 2000, meaning the number of adults with access to the Internet in the US is 104 million or 56% of the US adult population, according to survey results released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

          The survey also found that 30 million US children under the age of 18 are now online, and a whopping 73% of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 have online access, the Pew Internet & American Life Project says. The figures for online use by children were the first released by the project.

          According to the survey, more woman and minorities made their way online in the second half of the year, with woman accounting for 50.6% of US internet population. The African American online population saw a 22% gain in the second half of 2000, with more African American woman beginning to make use of the internet. In particular, 45% of African American woman had internet access by the end of the year, compared to 34% in the first half of 2000, Pew says.

          The largest disparity in the online population occurs in the areas of age and income, Pew says. Seventy-five percent of US citizens between the ages of 18 and 29 were online while only 15% of people aged 65 or older were on the internet.

          Furthermore, 82% of families with a household income of over $US75,000 per year had internet access by the end of last year, while 38% of households with incomes below $30,000 per year were online, Pew says. The study points out that a greater percentage of lower income households gained access to the internet in the second half of 2000, up from 28% by June 2000.

          By comparison 98% of US households own a television, and 94% have a telephone, Pew says.

          The conclusions were derived from data gathered in two surveys. A total of 4606 adults over the age of 18 were polled between May 2 and June 30, 2000, of which 2277 were internet users, and between November 22 and December 21, 3493 people were polled, 2038 of which were internet users, Pew says. The rate of error was plus or minus percentage points, Pew says. Those polled were located through a random digit sample of telephone numbers, selected from various telephone exchanges in the continental US.

          Other findings of the survey included:

          • 82% of people with undergraduate or graduate degrees are online;
          • on an "typical" day, 58 million Americans use the internet;
          • in November and December, most users (34%) went online between noon and 5pm, with the second most popular time during the day to be online (32%) being between 5pm. and 9pm.;
          • on a typical day in November and December, 49% of users went online to gain access to e-mail, 22% were looking for news, and 23% say they went online to browse for fun. During the last half of 2000, 79% of internet users said they went online to find information about a hobby, an increase of 20 million Americans over the first six months of the year;
          • the biggest increase in online users based on age was for those between the ages of 50 and 64: 51% of people in that age group were online in the second half of 2000, compared with 41% in the first six months of last year;
          • the Pew survey recorded a slight drop in the average amount of time users spent on line per day. The difference between the first and second half of 2000 was only a few minutes, which the report chalked up to a seasonal drop between Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as the fact that new users spend less time online than do veteran internet surfers;
          • the presidential election, which was not firmly decided until December, drew a large amount of internet traffic. Fifty million American adults (48%) sought out online news on the election and its aftermath, four times as many people who browsed for news on the 1996 presidential election; and
          • 52% of internet users said that they have bought a product over the internet at least once, an increase of about 14 million in the second half of 2000.

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