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Public Opinion About the Internet and Information Technologies - E-mail, Cellular Phones, E-commerce, E-crime, Entertainment Media

online gallup americans poll

Since the advent of the Internet, the Gallup Organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., has polled Americans about everything from their general use of computers and the Internet to the trust people place in online health-care advice. Data from a Gallup poll conducted in April 2003 revealed that 79% of Americans used a personal computer at their office, place of work, or school. A December 2004 Gallup poll found that 75% of respondents also logged on to the Internet at some point during the past year. Sixteen percent of Americans said they went online up to one hour a day, and a full 32% spent more than an hour a day on the Web. For the most part, Internet usage appeared as if it was beginning to plateau in 2004. A December 2002 poll reported that 72% of Americans used the Internet, with 26% of respondents saying they went online more than an hour a day. As a comparison, only 47% of people said they used the Internet in a poll conducted during November 1998.

In December 2003 Gallup also collected data on how online Americans used the Internet. As with surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, e-mail came in number one. Nine out of ten people (93%) responded that they had used e-mail. Roughly two-thirds (65%) of respondents claimed they used e-mail frequently. Checking the news or weather came in second with eight out of ten (83%) people responding that they engaged in this activity online. The poll found that seven out of ten Internet users (69%) shopped online. This number matches up with a "Pew Internet Project Data Memo" by Lee Rainie (April 13, 2004), which reported that two-thirds (65%) of American Internet users over age eighteen had bought something online. The Gallup poll also found that six out of ten (63%) online adults made travel plans and looked up medical advice online. Half (51%) of those polled contacted someone else with instant messaging (IM), five out of ten (49%) played a game online, and four out of ten (39%) paid bills online. A higher percentage of online Americans engaged in some of these activities than in previous years. According to a February 2000 Gallup poll, at that time only 89% of people sent e-mails and 45% shopped online.

In "Internet Use: What's Age Got to Do with It?" Linda Lyons calls attention to the discrepancy in Internet use between adults aged eighteen to forty-nine and those over fifty (Gallup Organization, March 16, 2004). The report, which employed aggregated data from 2002 and 2003, reveals that 52% of adults under the age of fifty said they log on to the Internet everyday, compared with 17% of those aged sixty-five and older. Different age groups engaged in different activities on the Internet. Roughly every age group sent and received e-mail in the same proportion. However, 36% of young adults aged eighteen to twenty-nine used instant messaging, compared with 18% of the thirty to forty-nine-year-old group and 12% of fifty- to sixty-four-year-olds. Twenty-six percent of those thirty to forty-nine paid their bills online, compared with the 9% of those over fifty. Surprisingly, roughly equal percentages in each age group logged on to play games.

Other demographic differences exist among those who use the Internet extensively. According to the March 2004 Gallup report by Linda Lyons, a higher percentage of men (49%) went online every day than women (40%). In addition, nearly half of urban (47%) and suburban (49%) people went online every day, as opposed to only one-third (34%) of those living in rural areas. Forty-four percent of whites used the Internet every day, versus 46% of nonwhites, suggesting that the digital divide between races has evaporated. According to "Minority Teens Less Likely to Socialize via Web" by Steve Hanway (Gallup Organization, June 10, 2003), however, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported in February 2002 that whites were still ahead of African-Americans and Hispanics in their Internet use. Gallup poll data on teen Internet usage from January and February 2003 appeared to corroborate these findings to a certain extent. The data revealed that 79% of online black and Hispanic teenagers sent and received emails, compared with 89% of online white teens. Seventy percent of wired white youth also used instant messaging to chat with friends, as opposed to 56% of wired Hispanics and African-Americans. Hispanics and African-Americans, however, sought out information on the Internet just as much as whites (92% vs. 93%) and chatted more with people they did not know in online chat rooms. Hanway suggested that these findings indicate that black and Hispanic Internet users do not have as extensive a network of friends and family with Internet connections as white teens did. The June 2003 report, however, ended on an optimistic note. Hanway pointed out that Internet and computer companies would in the future likely lower the prices of basic Internet access to reach all audiences and that at that point people in various racial and socioeconomic demographics should be online in equal proportions.

Public Opinion on the Family - Status Of The Family, Family Diversity, Religion And The American Family, Family Life In The Technology Age [next] [back] Public Opinion About Health Care - Most Americans Believe That Access To Health Care Is A Right, Many Americans Are Concerned About Their Ability To Pay For Health Care

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