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25 fast facts about how Americans use the internet today

  • 25 fast facts about how Americans use the internet today

    In the 1980s a British computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee was working at CERN, a large particle physics lab in Switzerland. He noticed that scientists from all around the world were flocking to the lab to use its particle accelerators, but they were having a hard time sharing the data they’d collected and the reports of their findings. This was due, in large part, to the fact that the lab didn’t have a connected computer system. Instead, information was stored on different computers around the compound, and to use the many computers one had to know how to use a host of different programs. Berners-Lee knew there was a way to solve this problem and set out to develop a solution: the World Wide Web.

    First proposed in 1989, even tech-savvy scientists didn't embrace the idea immediately. Berners-Lee’s own boss, Mike Sendall, called his initial proposal “vague but exciting.” Today, however, the internet has become an integral part of daily life, and the global culture has become almost completely dependent on it. This is particularly true in the United States, where the vast majority of the population uses the internet regularly for both work and entertainment.

    Stacker has rounded up 25 fast facts about how Americans use the internet. Using information from research and statistics groups like the Pew Research Center and Statista, as well as news sources and internet statistics organizations, this article looks at everything from how long the average American spends online each day to which websites are the most popular. Read on to discover which age group spends the most time on the internet, how many people rely solely on our smartphones to surf the web and other statistics that may challenge general perceptions of the internet.

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  • 87% of the American population is online

    According to the statistics database Statista, there were 293 million internet users in America as of August 2019, which amounts to 87.27% of the American population. This number represents a massive jump from 2000, when only 52% of the American population used the internet, according to Pew Research.

  • Adults 18–49 use the internet most

    Who are these 293 million American internet users? According to Pew Research Center, they’re primarily adults ages 50 and under. One hundred percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use the internet, as well as 97% of 30- to 49-year-olds. Meanwhile, only 73% of those ages 65 and older have adopted the use of the internet.

  • Women use the internet more than men

    When the Pew Research Center first began collecting data about the internet in 2000, they found that more men were using the internet than women. At the time, 54% of men regularly used the internet while only 50% of women did. Today, that dynamic has shifted slightly: 91% of American women use the internet, while 90% of men regularly head online.

  • Nearly three-quarters of Americans have home broadband

    So how are all those people accessing the internet? A lot of us are logging on thanks to a home broadband connection. According to Pew Research, in February 2019, 73% of Americans reported having high-speed broadband connections in their homes. This is a huge increase from the 1% who reported having a home broadband connection in March 2000.

  • One-quarter of Americans access the internet via public library

    Aside from books and magazines, libraries have a host of other resources to offer the public. Among them, is free internet access. Pew Research found that 23% of Americans ages 16 and above, went to their local public library to use the internet in 2016 (the most recent year this data was available). It’s important to note that this doesn’t include college and university libraries.

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  • There are over 150,000 Wi-Fi locations in America

    In the late 1990s, researcher Vic Hayes and his team introduced “the concept of an international standard for wireless networking,” or Wi-Fi, to the general public. While the concept didn’t immediately take off, there are now, as of 2019, 152,069 Wi-Fi locations available in the United States alone according to Statista.

  • 17% of Americans rely on smartphones for internet access

    A small, but growing, number of Americans rely on smartphones as their primary means of internet access. In 2013, 8% of American adults used their smartphones to go online and had no home broadband connection. By 2019, according to Pew Research, that number had grown to 17%.

  • Americans spend a quarter of each year online

    A 2019 study by Hootsuite and We Are Social showed that the average American was spending just over a quarter of their life online. An average of six hours and 31 minutes is spent online each day in the U.S., which equates to just under 100 days or about one-fourth of a given year.

  • American teens spend seven hours online each day

    While the average American adult spends about 6.5 hours online each day, American teenagers surf the web even more. According to a Common Sense Media study done in 2019, the average teenager is spending more than seven hours online each day just for entertainment. This number doesn’t include the hours they spend completing school work online.

  • Over one-quarter of Americans are constantly online

    If you thought seven hours a day spent online was bad, you might want to reconsider. In 2019, 28% of adults reported that they were online “almost constantly.” The largest percentage of those “constantly online” were adults ages 18 to 29 (48%).

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