Internet and mobiles now more addictive than TV - survey

By John Leonard
28 Feb 2014 View Comments
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A survey by Pew Research Center has found that among US citizens TV has now been displaced by internet and smartphones as the technology that Americas would find it hardest to do without.

On the 25th anniversary of its creation, the internet is now used by 87 per cent of the US population, according to Pew, with almost complete saturation among young people and wealthier households. Meanwhile 68 per cent of adults connect to the internet with smartphones or tablet computers.

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Fifty-three percent of internet users say that it would be very hard to give up their internet habit, compared with 38 per cent in 2006. Forty-nine per cent said it would be very hard to give up their mobile phones, compared with 43 per cent in 2006.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the low "addictivity" of social media. Facebook, Twitter and other media are frequently described as being extremely habit-forming. However, just 11 per cent of internet users said they would find it very hard to give up.

The survey respondents believe overwhelmingly that the internet has been a positive development both for individuals and society. In general, people say they have seen more kindness than cruelty on the internet, although among younger people the margin is fairly small with 44 per cent saying they have been personally attacked.

The main casualty of the rise of the internet seems to be TV. Overall, 35 per cent of adults say their television would be very hard to give up, down from 44 per cent in 2006.

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