The Internet keeps us better informed
Dec. 15, 2014
by Mark Ollig

The folks at the Pew Research Center just recently released a report regarding our feelings about the Internet.

Their polling suggests we are keeping better contact with family and friends via the Internet, text messaging, and emails.

I have found this to be true.

I’m texting, emailing, and using Internet social media to communicate with friends and family much more these days, rather than placing telephone calls.

Pew Research says 67 percent of online adults report being better informed about friends, while 60 percent believe they know more about their family than they did five years ago, because of their Internet and smartphone usage.

Internet technology provides us with access to news and information about our local communities, and civic organizations.

Surprisingly, the polling only shows 49 percent of people feeling better informed about civic and governmental activities in their town’s community, because of digital and Internet technology.

Regarding their neighbors and neighborhood, only 39 percent feel better informed because of the technology.

In many of the local community websites I have visited online, there is a wealth of information available to citizens.

Perhaps more attention should be paid to getting this information from city websites, to the local citizens.

I wrote a column Nov. 10, 1997 about when my hometown of Winsted first went live with its own “official” city website on the Internet.

Hard to believe it was 17 years ago, isn’t it?

This taking-the-initiative writer feels the time has come to pen an updated column about the variety of services and information city websites are offering to their local citizens and visitors.

The link to the 1997 column “City of Winsted now on the Web” can be read at http://tinyurl.com/le3bxun.

We know the Internet provides us with an enormous amount of information.

Pew Research found 72 percent of the folks polled said they liked having this information available to them.

On the other hand, 26 percent felt “overloaded” by this eruption of Internet information.

The report shows 77 percent of the adults polled say the Internet has made today’s students better informed, while 8 percent said students had become less well-informed.

Who those 8 percent were is a mystery to me.

The 2013 “How Much Media? Report on American Consumers” article from the USC Marshall School of Business, predicts Americans will have consumed 1.7 trillion hours of traditional and digital media content by 2015.

This media includes print, television, radio, telephone, Internet, computer gaming, and online social media; like Facebook and Twitter.

It breaks down to an average of 15.5 hours a day per person consuming, and creating original content; whether it be traditional or digital media.

One study from 2008, showed the average American at that time was processing over 100,500 words per day from various sources.

Today’s column is around 900 words, so this writer is doing his part in creating content for your enjoyment.

Pew Research says, of today’s Web users under age 50, 61 percent feel the Internet and smartphones have improved their ability to learn new things, while 44 percent of users over age 50 responded saying this technology has “only a little” or “not at all” improved their learning new things.

Its polling found 75 percent of us feel better informed about national news, due to our increased Internet usage.

The Internet allows us to become more aware of the news and goings-on in other countries around the world.

Pew Research asked people if they feel better informed today about international news because of their use of the Internet and smartphones compared with five years ago. This poll showed 74 percent overall said they had.

I was on a Barcelona news website, reading about their recent vote on the Catalonia community (which Barcelona is a part of) becoming independent from Spain.

Although the website was written in the language of Catalan (there was no English version), I could easily copy and paste its website address, or a specific article into Google Translate, to read the text in English.

When addressing the topic of health and fitness information, 65 percent of Internet users said they are better informed than they were in 2009, due to their use of the Internet and smartphones.

It was satisfying to see the 87 percent of Americans polled who reported using the Internet is helping them to learn new things.

Pew Research discovered the Internet and digital technology is not only about learning new things, it’s also about sharing information.

When asked how digital technology has improved their capability to share thoughts and concepts with other people, on average, 38 percent of online Americans responded with “a lot,” while 34 percent said it improved their ability “somewhat.” There were 27 percent responding with “only a little, or not at all.”

We are enjoying, contributing, and learning from the ever-increasing amount of information being made available to us over the Internet.

Our ability to balance the amount of information we contribute and receive from the Internet, without suffering from “information overload,” is something we continue to learn how to handle.

This Pew Research study was conducted in September from a sampling of 1,066 Internet and smartphone users age 18 and older.

Advertise in over
250+ MN newspapers