World Wide Web ‘An Especially Good Thing’ As It Nears 25th Birthday

76 percent of people believe that the World Wide Web has been good for society as it approaches its 25th birthday

As it approaches its 25th birthday, the World Wide Web is now affecting our lives more now than ever before, according to research.

A survey carried out by the Pew Research Centre has revealed that 87 percent of Americans are currently connected to the Web, with two thirds saying that it has improved the overall quality of their lives and positively impacted society as a whole. A report detailing the survey’s results described the World Wide Web as “a plus for society and an especially good thing for individual users”.

Tim Berners-Lee first proposed the idea of a system which would turn into World Wide Web on 12 March, 1989, meaning it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

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“The invention of the Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee was instrumental in turning the Internet from a geeky data-transfer system embraced by specialists and a small number of enthusiasts into a mass-adopted technology easily used by hundreds of millions around the world,” the report’s introduction said.

Interviewing over a thousand Americans, the Pew study found that 90 percent of respondents said the Internet has been good for them, with 76 percent saying it has been good for society.

Despite initial worries that the Web would lead to the downfall of other communication, 67 percent actually said the Internet strengthened communications with their friends and family, although 18 percent said it hurt those relationships.

This may well be related to the growing obsession many people have with getting online, as 39 percent said they “absolutely need” to have Internet access.

Just over half (53 percent) of modern-day users also said that they would find it very hard to give up Internet access, compared to just 38 percent in 2006.

Among those who said it would be difficult to give up net access, 61 percent said being online is essential for their jobs or other aspects of their lives, and 30 percent said they want the Internet because they simply enjoy being online.

The survey also highlighted how the ability to access has changed immensely. In 1995, 42 percent of U.S. adults said they used a computer at their workplace, at school or at home albeit often only occasionally. Now, eight in ten surveyed said they use a laptop or desktop computer somewhere in their lives – and the rise of smartphones has been even more marked.

“The rise of the Web — and more broadly, the Internet — has been one of the most remarkable stories of technology adoption in history,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center Internet Project. “After they tote up all the positives and negatives of life in the digital age, the vast majority of users believe these technologies have made things better for them and for society. They see problems, to be sure, but most have now brought technology so deeply into the rhythms of their lives that they say it would be very hard to give up.”

The survey also measured mobile phone usage, finding hat 49 percent of mobile users said their phones would be ‘very hard’ to give up. Overall ownership  of mobile phones grew from 53 percent in 2000 to 90 percent today, with  smartphones accounting for  58 percent of this, up from 35 percent in 2011.

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