It should come as no surprise to anyone that the internet is playing an increasingly important role in our lives since going mainstream, but the speed at which that transformation occurred might.
Since 2000, our time spent online each week has steadily increased, rising from 9.4 hours to 23.6 hours — nearly an entire day, according to a recent report by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future. The internet has become an integral component of our home lives as well, with time spent rising more than 400 percent over that period from 3.3 hours to 17.6 hours each week, according to the report, which surveys more than 2,000 people across the US each year.
The center’s 15th annual Digital Future Report illustrates the internet’s dramatic evolution since 2000 from a secondary medium to an indispensable component of our daily lives — always on and always with us. It also comes as many fear for the future of the unlimited internet we have largely taken for granted over the past two decades.
Earlier this month, the FCC released the final text of its order, the controversial Obama-era net neutrality regulations that held that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally and prohibited broadband and wireless providers from blocking or slowing online content.
“From the beginning of our research in 1999, it quickly became clear that the internet was becoming a central part of everyday life — even more vital than the telephone and telegraph were in their day,” Jeffrey Cole, director of the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, said in a statement.
“And just as those earlier technologies were regulated to support the public good, so too should the internet be regulated, which is a compelling reason why we should have net neutrality — so everyone has equal access to this invaluable resource.”
The report also found that the internet has had a dramatic impact on how we get our news. News consumption for all ages went from a print-to-online ratio of 85-15 in 2001 to a near even 51-49 in 2016.
Online social networks are also having an indelible affect on offline relationships, with 62 percent saying the internet was important or very important for maintaining social relationships.
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