Top 10 Trends from Internet’s First 10 Years

With access up to the highest levels ever, and continuing to climb, the changes are coming faster than ever, too.

September 30, 2004 – Unbelievably, in light of the speed with which it has spread around the world, it has only been ten years since the Web first opened up to the first “early adaptor” computer techies. The pace of change has been breathtaking. To quote the Digital Future Report:

“In January 1994, about 2 million computers � primarily used by academics, scientists, and corporate researchers � were connected to the Internet. That number would increase to 70 million by the time the Digital Future Report was created in 2000. Now, the Internet is used by about three-quarters of Americans, and online technology is a constant presence in two-thirds of American homes.”

Every day, all around the country, millions of young children, great grandmothers and people of every age in between e-mail and communicate, search for information, conduct business, buy things, listen to music and play games on the Net. Accordingly, the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future is studying the impact of online technology on people’s lives and society in general, and the top ten significant trends that have emerged � the trends that most vividly illustrate how the Internet affects America today.

“After a decade of observing the evolution of the Internet, and four years of our formal studies of online technology, we are seeing clear trends in how the Internet has changed the United States,” says Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center.

Formerly the UCLA Internet Report, the Digital Future Report was created to provide a broad year-to-year exploration of the influence of the Internet on Americans. The project examines the behavior and views of a national sample of 2,000 Internet users and non-users, as well as comparisons between new users, those with less than one year of experience, and very experienced users, which now, in year four, means seven or more years of experience.

Here then, according to the Digital Future Report, are the top 10 trends:

    1. “The Digital Divide Is Closing” � The fastest-growing Internet user populations are the groups that were once considered victims of the digital divide: Hispanics, African Americans and Seniors. What’s more, nearly 99% of schools have Net access.

    2. “The Media Habits of the Nation Are Changing” � Over the last 10 years, Net users are increasingly “buying time” they used to spend watching TV to spend it online.

    3. “The Credibility of the Internet Is Dropping” � Just over 70% of Net users consider “most” information online to be reliable and accurate.

  1. “The Changes in Buying Online Are Just Beginning” � The intensity of credit card concern is declining and Internet users are buying more frequently online.

  2. “The ‘Geek-Nerd’ Perception of the Internet Is Dead” � With three-quarters of Americans online, the Net is no longer a space reserved for “techies.” Further, e-mail and IM have helped build relationships, not push Net users further away from people.

  3. “Privacy and Security Concerns Remain High” � Not only do Net users worry about their personal and financial information online, but they are also concerned about their time online being monitored. Issues with viruses, spam and phishing do nothing to allay these fears.

  4. “The Internet Has Become the #1 Source of Information for Users” � And, the spread of broadband has accelerated this trend.

  5. “The Benefits � and Drawbacks � of the Internet for Children Are Still Coming into Focus” � Today’s children are Net-savvy, sometimes more so than their parents. Is the Internet helping children (homework) or hurting them (online predators)?

  6. “E-Mail: E-Nuff Already?” � It’s the most important reason why people go online, but concerns about spam, inbox overload and time commitments are piling up.

  7. “Broadband Will Change Everything � Again” � How often users go online, how long they spend online and what they do online is changing with broadband access.

In summary, if you think the influence of the Internet is over, you’re wrong. Internet access has risen to its highest level ever. About three-quarters of Americans now go online. The number of hours spent online continues to increase, rising to an average of 12.5 hours per week. The changes are going to keep coming, faster and faster.

About eMarketer

By gathering the latest research and news from over 1,000 sources, eMarketer has established itself as the world’s leading provider of internet and e-business statistics. eMarketer’s Web site is at