Internet, Cellphones Increasingly Viewed as Essential

I survived National Day of Unplugging, a day in which individuals are encouraged to disconnect for 24 hours.

Electrical cords connected to multi outlets

Increasingly Americans view the internet and cellphones as essential making it harder to unplug. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

It wasn’t easy. First thing Saturday morning I went to check my emails and quickly stopped myself. I also needed to send some emails to keep projects moving but they had to wait until Sunday.

I couldn’t go to the Internet to reserve my DVDs. Instead, I showed up at Redbox and hoped that my movie choice was still available.

I did find myself reading more. And because the weather was gorgeous I spent a good deal of time outside. I wonder if that would have happened if I could have been checking emails or surfing the net?

It’s a question that the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project posed. The answer is that increasingly Americans view the internet and cellphones as essential.

According to the survey, more than half of internet users now say the internet would be “very hard” to give up. And among this devoted group, 61 percent said the internet was essential to them, either for work or other reasons.

For something that didn’t exist all that long ago, the Internet has come into wide usage. Tomorrow, in fact, the World Wide Web turns 25.

Also growing in importance is the cellphone. Today if I leave my house without my cellphone, I turn back to get it. I’m not sure what I think is going to happen without the device, but I’m not alone in this thinking. Cellphone owners are attached to their phones with 49 percent saying they would have a hard time giving them up, which is up from 43 percent in 2006.

The survey also found declines in televisions and landlines. Surprisingly, the level of attachment for social media remains low. Only 11 percent said it would be hard to give up, while 40 percent said it wouldn’t be difficult at all.

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