A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in light of the World Wide Web turning a quarter-century old on March 12, set out to see exactly how one of the most revolutionary technological advances of our time has impacted Americans’ lives since Sir Tim Berners-Lee shared his “information management” code to the world, for free, on Christmas Day 1990.
“Using the Web—browsing it, searching it, sharing on it—has become the main activity for hundreds of millions of people around the globe. Its birthday offers an occasion to revisit the ways it has made the internet a part of Americans’ social lives,” wrote Susannah Fox and Lee Rainie in the report. “Indeed, the invention of the Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee was instrumental in turning the internet from a geeky data-transfer system embraced by specialists and a small number of enthusiasts into a mass-adopted technology easily used by hundreds of millions around the world.”
In the section of the report about what kinds of things people use the internet for, the study found that 89 percent of people research products before purchasing online. For marketers, this highlights the importance of including reviews and customer feedback that is easily accessible to the consumer. Otherwise, you could lose a potential buyer who has to wander off to another site to find a review and be led elsewhere to complete the purchase.
Not surprisingly, 90 percent of internet users polled said that the internet has impacted their lives positively. Six-percent said it had affected their lives negatively, and 3 percent said it has had both negative and positive impacts for them. As for its effects on society as a whole, 76 percent of users said it has been a good thing, 15 percent said it has been a bad thing and 8 percent said it has been both good and bad. When asked if they could give the internet up, 53 percent said that “it would be, at minimum, very hard.”
The survey goes on to discuss other various digital technologies like cell phones and social media, as well as break down internet usage by demographics. The results were based on telephone interviews with 1,006 Americans over the age of 18 from January 9 to January 12, 2014.