As online activities to help people stay connected during social distancing spike, new data show that 53 percent of U.S. adults say that the internet has been “essential” for them personally during the pandemic. 

Pew Research published a new study today that sampled 4,917 American adults across the U.S., and found that another 34 percent describe their internet access during the pandemic as “important, but not essential.” 

Only 13 percent collectively called it “not too important” or “not at all important.”

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The survey analyzed how Americans regarded their time online. A whopping 90 percent told researchers that for themselves personally, internet access has been a “good thing,” with 10 percent saying it has been bad for them personally. 

These figures fluctuate when respondents are asked if internet usage has been beneficial to society. A slimmer 78 percent of Americans consider the increased internet usage a good thing for society, and 21 percent regard it as a bad thing. 

Across multiple demographics, 65 percent of adults aged 30 to 49 find this access to be critical, with 62 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 following close behind. Individuals who are in the upper income bracket are the demographic most likely to regard online access as crucial, with a 63 percent majority calling it essential. 

Additionally, 65 percent of Hispanic respondents said that internet access is essential right now, while smaller percentages of white and black Americans felt the same way, polling 50 and 52 percent respectively. 

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The analysis underscores debates regarding universal broadband access and internet connectivity, although 62 percent of polled Americans do not believe the federal government is responsible for ensuring that all Americans have access to high-speed internet during the coronavirus pandemic. 

It follows similar reporting done by the Pew Research Center that found a staggering 93 percent of American adults would consider a service outage or interruption a problem. 

The Pew Research Center conducted this analysis from April 7 to 12, using its proprietary American Trends Panel (ATP) to select survey participants. It is a nationally representative panel, with a margin of error for the total sample at 2.1 percentage points. 


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Published on Apr 30, 2020