The World Wide Web turns 25 on March 12, 2014.
Although you are still very young, you have already captured the hearts of the entire world. Admittedly, after 25 years, we have all become addicted to your creative energy, flashy colors and vibrant sounds. And you have given us the gift of communication that has enabled us to connect, at the speed of light, with everyone from friends to former colleagues. Because of you, today we can bond with complete strangers from the other side of world over issues we ALL have in common.
In order to mark your 25th birthday, the Pew Research Center has released a new survey that provides an overview of your growth and impact:
- 87 percent of American adults now use the internet, with near-saturation usage among those living in households earning $75,000 or more (99 percent), young adults ages 18-29 (97 percent), and those with college degrees (97 percent).
- 68 percent of adults connect to the internet with mobile devices like smartphones or tablet computers.
- 90 percent of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for them personally and only 6 percent say it has been a bad thing, while 3 percent volunteer that it has been some of both.
- 76 percent of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for society, while 15 percent say it has been a bad thing and 8 percent say it has been equally good and bad.
The survey— based on data from telephone interviews conducted from January 2014 among a sample of 1,006 adults ages 18 and older— also shows how you have become an indispensable part of our everyday lives. Over 50 percent of internet users say the internet would be, at minimum, “very hard” to give up, compared with 38 percent in 2006. Among those internet users who said it would be very hard to let you go, 61 percent said being online was essential for work or other reasons.
From the marketing executive who uses you to gather customer information to the student who uses you to conduct research for a school paper and the college grad who uses you to search for a job, you have become the go-to source for information. Today, you are a matchmaker, phone book, shopping network, data storage and management service, and a social hub. Most people believe that you are responsible for their relationships with family and friends.
According to the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of internet users say their online communication with family and friends has generally strengthened those relationships. For proof of your ability to keep families together, just ask the grandparents who now have Facebook pages. They have discovered, as awkward as it might be, that you provide them with a way to be “cool” while keeping track of their grandkids. This also holds true people who use you to connect with other long-distance family members.
The bottom line is that you have become a global village of immediate information. And you have given us freedom and a voice with our very own forum that we can use anyway we see fit. For that, we thank you!