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%).