Americans Are Heavily Addicted to the Internet, and the Statistics Are Staggering


If you feel yourself getting antsy without your iPad or your phone at your fingertips, there is at least a silver lining — you belong to the majority of Internet users who are addicted to being online.

While television used to be the great American addiction, people are no longer rushing home every night to catch their favorite shows with TV dinners in hand (shows like The Walking Dead are a rare exception). But while American adults are giving up TV more easily, their dependency on the Internet is growing ever year.

The following chart from Pew Research illustrates this national trend:

Image credit: Pew Research

According to Pew, 53% of Internet users and 46% of all adults say it would be very hard to give up the Internet. In comparison, only 35% of all adults say the same about giving up television, and the number is shockingly low when it comes to young adults: Only 12% of those in the 18-29 age group said they would find it hard to give up television.

When it comes to email, 36% of Internet users and 31% of all adults said it would be very hard to give up. That number is much greater than the figures for social media — only 11% of Internet and 10% of all adults said they would find it very hard to give up.

Image credit: Pew Research

Most tellingly, Pew found that certain sociocultural factors influenced the respondents' answers: Female Internet users were more likely to find it difficult to give up the Internet than male Internet users (56% vs. 48%), and "those with higher levels of education and household income are more likely than others to report it would be difficult to give up the Internet."

Similarly, "Those who live in higher-income households and college graduates are more likely to be wedded to email than those in lower-income households and those without college degrees."

But it wasn't just Netflix bingers and Torrent enthusiasts who found it hard to give up the Internet — "a notable share of Americans say the Internet is essential to them," according to Pew. Of the group of Internet users who said it would be very hard to give up the Internet, 61% said it was essential for them to be online for professional reasons. Around 30% said they needed the Internet for pure enjoyment, while 7% said they needed it for both reasons.