The Age of Internet or the Online Man
"The Global Village"
As Marshall McLuhan predicted almost 60 years ago, we are already living in unprecedented ages of worldwide informational interconnection. Nowadays, we can hardly imagine going out without our smartphone, using old type mobile phones, let alone a home without a Wi-Fi network. Matter of fact, it became the most important service that people are asking for when choosing a hotel, hostel, or a location to sleep. As though without it, we can't really enjoy our vacation. More and more people are spending most of their time online while not using the internet is seen as some kind of abstinence. All that is more than understandable considering the unarguable advantages and comforts that the internet endowed to us. We can literally communicate with the speed of light and of course, there are innumerable other benefits. But we are seldom questioning the possible repercussions upon our psyche and the natural functioning of our brain, the faculty of memory, or sleep. Is it really the same to have a chat through some social media as to engage in a real conversation? Do we still hold the border between our Instagram or Facebook profile and our persona? The line separating real and virtual is becoming thin and yet more thinner. What consequences are waiting for us as a kind, which is surely and inevitably transforming into a digital species? For now, we can only guess.
What says the statistics in The U.S.?
As smartphones and other internet-connected devices have become more widespread, 31% of U.S. adults now report that they go online "almost constantly," up from 21% in 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 25 to Feb. 8, 2021.
Overall, 85% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis. That figure includes the 31% who report going online almost constantly, as well as 48% who say they go online several times a day and 6% who go online about once a day. Some 8% go online several times a week or less often, while 7% of adults say they do not use the internet at all.
Adults under the age of 50 are at the vanguard of the constantly connected: 44% of 18- to 49-year-olds say they go online almost constantly. By comparison, just 22% of those ages 50 to 64 and even smaller shares of those 65 and older (8%) say they use the internet at this frequency.
While the share of 18- to 29-year-olds who say they use the internet almost constantly has risen 9 percentage points since 2018, it remains unchanged since 2019. Meanwhile, the share of constantly online Americans ages 30 to 49 has risen 14 points since 2015, and the share of 50- to 64-year-olds has risen from 12% in 2015 to 22% in 2021. The share of Americans ages 65 and older saying this has not grown since the Center began asking this question in 2015.
Other demographic groups that report almost always going online include college-educated adults, adults who live in higher-income households and urban residents.
Some 42% of adults with a college degree or more education go online almost constantly, compared with 23% of adults with a high school diploma or less education. At the same time, the shares of White, Black and Hispanic adults who report using the internet almost constantly are statistically the same. Some 37% of Black adults say this, while 36% of Hispanic adults and 28% of White adults report going online on an almost-constant basis. The share of Hispanic adults who are almost always online has risen 17 points since 2015, while there has been no growth for White and Black adults during this time period.
While 40% of adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more say they use the internet almost constantly, this is true for just 27% of those living in households earning less than $30,000 a year. Adults who live in urban areas are the most likely to say they go online almost constantly, compared with suburban residents and an even smaller share of those who live in rural areas.