The Pandemic and the Internet

Pew Research Center conducted several polls asking people about the importance of the Internet during the pandemic. The Pew survey report is seven pages filled with interesting statistics and a recommended read. This blog covers a few of the highlights.

The Overall Impact of the Internet. 58% of adults said that the Internet was essential during the pandemic – that’s up from 52% in April of 2020. Another 33% of adults say the Internet was important but not essential. Only 9% of adults said the Internet wasn’t important to them. The importance of the Internet varied by race, age, level of education, income, and location.

  • As might be expected, 71% of those under 30 found the Internet to be essential compared to 38% of those over 65.
  • 71% of those with a college degree found the internet to be essential versus 45% of those with a high school degree or less.
  • 66% of those in the upper third of incomes found the Internet to be essential compared to 55% of those in the lower third.
  • 61% of both urban and suburban residents found the Internet to be essential compared to 48% for rural residents.

Video Calling Usage Exploded. Possibly the biggest overall change in Internet usage has been the widespread adoption of video calling. 49% of adults made a video call at least once per week, with 12% doing so several times per day. The usage was most pronounced for those who work from home, with 79% making a video call at least once per week and 35% connecting multiple times per day.

Longing for a Return to Personal Interactions. Only 17% of Americans say that digital interactions have been as good as in-person contacts, while 68% say digital interactions are useful but no replacement for in-person contacts.

Challenges with Online Schooling. Only 18% of households said that online schooling went very well, with 45% saying it went somewhat well. 28% of households reported it was very easy to use the technology associated with online schooling, with another 42% saying it was somewhat easy. Twice as many people from the lower one-third of incomes said online schooling technology was difficult than those in the upper one-third of incomes. Nearly twice as many people in rural areas found online schooling technology to be a challenge compared to suburban residents.

Problems with Internet Connections. 49% of all survey respondents said they had problems with the internet connection during the pandemic. 12% experienced problems often.

Upgrading Internet. 29% of survey respondents said they did something to improve their Internet connection during the pandemic.

Affordability. 26% of respondents said they are worried about the ability to pay home broadband bills. This was 46% among those in the lower one-third of incomes.

Tech Readiness. 30% of Americans say they are not confident using computers, smartphones, or other connected electronics. This was highest for those over 75 (68%), those with a high school degree or less (42%), and those in the lower one-third of incomes (38%).

One thought on “The Pandemic and the Internet

  1. No real surprises in this report.

    Thoses who’s job could be handled remotely see the Internet as essential (other’s less so). Price of access is too high, especially for lower income families, consuming a significant portion of the budgets (EBB will help temporarily). Lower income residents found home schooling challenging most likely because of lower speed Internet packages, older computers and networking equipment. Many also probably had to work outside the home, making it more challenging to children’s schooling from home.

    I can only imagine what it was like to try and WFH with 2 SFH children using A 4/1 DSL service from Frontier. Its very unfortunate we can’t do better in providing access to this essential service. We need an REA version 3 (electric, telephone and now broadband).

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