Americans' daily use virtually unchanged
When it comes to time online, Britons and Canadians appear to be catching up a little with Americans. Gallup Polls conducted last December in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain* measured reported Internet use in the three countries. The U.S. poll shows that almost half of Americans (48%) say they use the Internet daily, virtually unchanged from the year before. A similar 47% of Canadians report using the Internet that often, up marginally from 43% in 2003. In Great Britain, the percentage of daily Internet users increased between 2003 and 2004, from 29% to 36%.
Gallup has previously documented that American men are a little more likely to be heavy Internet users than women are. Currently, 52% of American men say they use the Internet daily, compared with 45% of women. A similar pattern exists in Great Britain, but the gender gap in Canada is much narrower. In Great Britain, 44% of men say they use the Internet daily, compared with just 28% of women. In Canada, 49% of men report daily excursions into cyberspace, versus 44% of women.
An Internet for the Ages
It's tempting to assume that the youngest adults in each country -- those who are most likely to be early adopters of new technologies -- are also the most avid Internet users. That's true for the youngest age groups in both Canada and Great Britain, where daily Internet use falls off significantly with age.
In Canada, 62% of 18- to 29-year-olds tell Gallup they log on every day, but daily use drops to 53% for 30- to 49-year-olds, 43% for 50- to 64-year-olds, and just 16% for Canadians aged 65 and older. Fifty-four percent of Britons between the ages of 18 and 29 are online every day, but daily use declines to 44% for 30- to 49-year-olds and 27% for those 50 to 64. Only 11% of British people aged 65 and older say they log on each day. Only in the United States is the pattern slightly different: Daily Internet use is highest among 30- to 49-year-old Americans at 59%. Half of 18- to 29-year-olds (49%) and 50- to 64-year-olds (50%) also use the Internet every day; 21% of those 65 and older do so.
It's a vast understatement to say the Internet pervades 21st-century life. Sending e-mail, shopping, arranging travel plans, checking news, playing games, watching movies, downloading music, taking a course, finding a mate, listening to the radio, paying bills, getting medical advice -- so many aspects of life can be efficiently accomplished online. So it's not surprising that governments and private industries around the globe are investing heavily in the technology necessary to make their populations just as comfortable in cyberspace as Americans are.
And the developing world can't be far behind. China, where Internet use has exploded from 2% of the population in 1999 to 12% today -- is a good example (see "Internet Use: Behind 'The Great Firewall of China'" in Related Items). Literature for the U.N.-sponsored "World Summit on the Information Society," to be held in Tunisia in November 2005, sums up the importance of global Internet access: "The Internet has become an important global resource ... to both the developed world as a business and social tool and the developing world as a passport to equitable participation, as well as economic, social and educational development."
*Results in the United States are based on telephone interviews with 1,003 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 5-8, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. The survey was conducted by Gallup USA.
Results in Canada are based on telephone interviews with 1,004 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 6-12, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. The survey was conducted by Gallup Canada.
Results in Great Britain are based on telephone interviews with 1,009 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 1-21, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. The survey was conducted by Gallup UK.