Internet’s First Major Trends Identified

Ten years after electronic portals to the Worldwide Web were first opened to millions of computer users (and on the 35th anniversary year of the groundbreaking first “Login” on the Internet), ten significant trends have emerged that vividly illustrate how the Internet affects America, according to findings from the comprehensive year-to-year study of the impact of online technology by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.

“After a decade of observing the evolution of the Internet, and four years of our formal studies of online technology, we are seeing clear trends in how the Internet has changed the United States,” said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future.

Year Four of the Digital Future Project (formerly the UCLA Internet Report) provides a broad year-to-year exploration of the influence of the Internet on Americans. The project examines the behavior and views of a national sample of 2,000 Internet users and non-users, as well as comparisons between new users (less than one year of experience) and very experienced users (in Year Four, seven or more years of experience).

Among the findings from Year Four of the Digital Future Project:

— Internet access has risen to its highest level ever. About three-quarters of Americans now go online.

— The number of hours spent online continues to increase, rising to an average of 12.5 hours per week – the highest level in the study thus far.

— E-mail is still the single most important reason people go online. E-mail is a tremendous convenience, but it is also a great irritation. We may be seeing the first hints that the most experienced users are not going to answer e-mail as often as they used to: new users think e-mail needs to be answered faster than do the experienced users.

— Television viewing continues to decline among Internet users, raising the question: “What will happen as a nation that once spent an extremely large portion of time in a passive activity (watching television) transfers increasingly large portions of that time to an interactive activity (the Internet)?”

To download the full text of the Digital Future Project report, visit

The USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future created and organizes the World Internet Project, which includes the UCLA Internet Report and similar studies in Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Asia.