February 18, 2001

More Online, Doing More

(Washington, D.C., February 18) — The number of American adults with Internet access grew by 16 million in the last six months of 2000, as women, minorities, and families with modest incomes continued to surge online. In all, more than 104 million adults had access to the Internet at the end of 2000, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The Project also reports for the first time that it has calculated the number of American children with online access. In all, 45% of those under 18 are connected to the Internet and that translates into more than 30 million children. Almost three-quarters of those in middle school and high school (ages 12-17) have access; and 29% of those under 12 go online.

“There has been so much attention focused on the woes of dot-com firms in recent months, that many might have lost sight of the fact that the appeal of getting access to the Internet is still very strong,” says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project. “We see substantial increases in Internet penetration across the board and that is changing the character of the Internet population. Every day, it looks more and more like the rest of America.”

This analysis comes from two surveys by the Pew Internet Project: one in May-June of 4,606 Americans (2,277 of whom have Internet access) and one in November-December of 3,493 Americans (2,038 of whom have Internet access). The margin of error in the surveys is plus or minus three percentages points.

Some of the highlights of the report entitled “More online, doing more”:

  • 56% of American adults have Internet access now.
  • On a typical day at the end of 2000, 58 million Americans were logging on – that’s an increase of 9 million people in the daily Internet population from mid-year.
  • There are notable increases in Internet access among women, minorities, those from households with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000, and parents with children living at home. Those groups are also a bigger proportion of the daily users of the Internet.
  • On a typical day, more people were sending email, getting news, and browsing for fun than were doing so at mid-year.
  • In the last half of 2000, there were sharp increases in the number of online Americans who have used the Web to pursue their hobbies (20 million more users have used the Internet for that), buy products (14 million more have done that), and browse for fun (15 million more have done that).

    Some other key findings: Growing numbers of middle-aged Internet users, blacks, and Hispanics increased their use of the Internet to get hobby information; there was a large spike in the number of online blacks who have made purchases online; the proportion of middle-aged Internet users who seek health information online grew rapidly; there was a jump among those without much formal education who use the Internet for work-related research; an increasing number of online Hispanics sought financial information on the Web.

    The end of the election and its disputed aftermath drew many Internet users to online news sources. On a typical day at the end of the year, 17% of Internet users got politics news and information online – double the number who were getting such news on a typical day in October.

    There are still digital divides when it comes to age and income. Older Americas are much less likely to have Internet access than younger Americans; poorer Americans are much less likely to have access than richer Americans.