Internet Catches More of Americans' Time

by Joseph Carroll, Gallup Poll Assistant Editor

Amount varies by age and gender

Every year, Gallup asks Americans to estimate how much time they spend using the Internet. The most recent results find that a majority of Americans report that they use the Internet daily, the highest level that Gallup has recorded. A majority of Americans under age 50 use the Internet daily, but younger adults, those in their late teens and early 20s, are no more likely than adults in their 30s or 40s to use the Internet that much. Men also are more inclined than women to say they use the Internet daily.

The poll, conducted Dec. 5-8, 2005*, finds that slightly more than half of Americans use the Internet for at least up to an hour each day, including a third who use it for more than an hour. About one in five Americans use the Internet a few times a week (13%) or a few times a month (9%), and 27% never use it at all.

Gallup has asked this question about Internet use since December 2002. Since then, the percentage of Americans who use the Internet daily has gradually increased. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who say they never use the Internet has held fairly steady, ranging from 25% to 28%.

In 2002, Gallup found that 42% of Americans said they use the Internet daily (26% said they use it for more than an hour per day and 16% said up to an hour a day). This percentage edged up to 47% in 2003, and remained at that level in 2004. Now, a slight majority of Americans report using the Internet daily.

Younger vs. Older Americans, Men vs. Women

The amount of time people spend on the Internet varies by gender and age. Looking at data collected since 2002, men are more likely than women to say they use the Internet daily. More than half of men say they spend time on the Internet daily, including 33% who spend more than an hour per day and 18% who spend up to an hour per day. Among women, slightly more than 4 in 10 say they use the Internet every day, with 26% saying they spend more than an hour a day and 17% saying they spend up to an hour a day. Women are also slightly more likely than men to say they never use the Internet.

Americans under age 50 are much more likely than those 50 and older to use the Internet on a daily basis. A majority of adults under age 50 say they use the Internet daily, and there are only modest fluctuations in Internet use among the various age categories between 18 and 49. Nearly half of adults aged 50 to 59 say they use the Internet daily. Internet use drops off substantially among adults aged 60 and older, at 36% among those aged 60 to 69, 18% among those aged 70 to 79, and only 8% among those aged 80 and older. The vast majority of adults aged 70 and older never use the Internet.

The data also show some interesting differences when looking at Internet use by gender and age together.

  • There are essentially no differences in Internet use between men and women in the 18 to 29 age group, with 53% of men in this age category and 55% of women saying they use the Internet daily.
  • In the 30 to 49 age category, men are more likely than women to use the Internet on a daily basis, by a 60% to 52% margin.
  • Among those aged 50 and older, 39% of men report using the Internet daily, compared with 31% of women.

*Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,013 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 5-8, 2005. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Results are based on telephone interviews with 4,028 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted across four surveys from December 2002 through December 2005. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
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