Sunday, December 03, 2006

Digital Future 2007 Report Findings

I am picking up on some ideas from Andy Carvin's post to his blog on PBS Teacher Source to do with The Center for the Digital Future and their 2007 Report just released. The press release summary provides an insight into the use of the Internet in the homes of about 2000 Americans in an ongoing annual survey of the same households. Andy was intrigued by the increased involvement in online communities with offline or civic action.

I am finding these points interesting:

In general the 2007 Digital Future Project found that Internet use is growing and evolving as an instrument for personal engagement – through blogs, personal Web sites, and online communities.

Online Communities
  • Online communities: daily use -- A significant majority of members of online communities
    (56.6 percent) log into their community at least once a day.
  • Member interaction -- Online communities are online havens for interaction among members; 70.4 percent of online community members say they sometimes or always interact with other members of their community while logged in.
Internet Users
  • The number of Internet users in America who keep a blog has more than doubled in three
    years (now 7.4 percent of users, up from 3.2 percent in 2003).
  • The number of Internet users who post photos online has more than doubled in three
    years (now 23.6 percent of users, up from 11 percent).
  • New friends, online and in person -- Internet users are finding growing numbers of online friends, as well as friends they first met online and then met in person. Internet users report having met an average of 4.65 friends online whom they have never met in person. Internet users report an average of 1.6 friends met in person whom they originally met online -- more than double the number when the Digital Future Project began in 2000.
Internet Access and Use
  • Americans on the Internet -- more than three-quarters of American are Internet users; 77.6 percent of Americans age 12 and older go online.
  • The Internet at home – more than two-thirds of Americans (68.1 percent) use the Internet at home, a substantial increase from the 46.9 percent of users who reported home Internet use in 2000 (the first year of the Digital Future Project).
  • Hours online -- the number of hours online continues to increase, rising to an average of 8.9 hours per week, an average of one hour more than 2005.
  • Internet connections at home: modem use plummets -- Use of telephone modem to access the Internet continues to decline. Last year, the number of Internet users who reported that they went online through a telephone modem dropped to less than a majority (45.6 percent) for the first time in the Digital Future Project. Use of telephone modem for access dropped again, to 37 percent of Internet users.
  • Access to the Internet through a broadband connection grew slightly, increasing to 50 percent, compared to 48.3 percent in 2005.
  • Men and women online -- For the first time the percentage of women going online was higher than the number of men.
  • Internet use and its effect on time spent watching TV – More than one-third of Internet users (35.5 percent) say that they spend less time watching TV since they began using the Internet -- a modest increase over 2002.
The Internet and Education
Schoolwork and the Internet: children’s views -- Children and adults continue to express conflicting views about the importance of the Internet for schoolwork. Of Internet users age 18 and under, 80.5 percent say that going online is very important or extremely important -- slightly less than the 83.5 percent who reported the same responses in the previous study. However, almost three-quarters of adults (74.1 percent) say that since their household acquired the Internet, the grades of children in their households have stayed the same.

The Internet at Work
Does the Internet make workers more productive? -- The percentage of users who say the
Internet at work makes them more productive has continued to increase overall for all six years of this study. Almost 70 percent of users who have access to the Internet at work (69.7 percent) say that by going online at work their productivity has improved somewhat or a lot, an increase from 66.3 percent in 2005, 65.8 percent in 2003, 64.5 percent in 2002, 60.9 percent in 2001, and 56.7 percent in 2000.

Brief Summary
In general, according to this report the use of the Internet is higher, people have a better connection and are doing more 'social' activities such as sharing resources (photos) and making friends or communicating with family. There is signs of increaed use of the Internet at work along with increased productivity. In education however there is no real sign of Internet use to increase grades. In the latter I doubt there is actual acknowledgement of social interaction as a benefit from Internet use. It seems that more people are using online learning communities but not necessarily as a tool for educational pursuit.

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