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New report: Internet more important than newspapers, but still not trustworth

Newspapers are now less important than the Internet as a source of information, yet the majority of online users say most online information is not reliable, according to the 10th annual study of the impact of the Internet on Americans by the Center for the Digital Future.

The study also found that 70 percent of online users believe that Internet advertising is “annoying,” yet 55 percent of users said they would rather see Web advertising than pay for content.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Americans on the Internet — For the first time, the Internet is used by more than 80 percent of Americans — now 82 percent.   Weekly hours online — The average time online has now reached 19 hours per week.  Although more than two-thirds of Americans have gone online for a decade, the largest year-to-year increases in weekly online use have been reported in the two most recent Digital Future studies.
  • Gaps in Internet use in age groups — Not surprisingly, Internet use continues to increase as age decreases, with 100 percent of those under age 24 going online.  However, a surprisingly high percentage of Americans between 36 and 55 are not Internet users: among respondents age 46 to 55, 19 percent are non-users; among those 36 to 45, 15 percent are non-users.
  • Low adoption of new media — Although new media is used by large percentages of  Internet users age 24 and under, overall large percentages of Internet users never go online to do instant messaging (50 percent), work on a blog (79 percent), participate in chat rooms (80 percent), or make or receive phone calls (85 percent).
  • Does technology make the world a better place — The percentage of users age 16 and older who said that communication technology makes the world a better place has declined to 56 percent of users from its peak of 66 percent in 2002.
  • Internet and Political Campaigns — although more than 70 percent of users agree that the Internet is important for political campaigns, only 27 percent of users said that by using the Internet public officials will care more about what people think, and 29 percent said that the Internet can give people more of a say in what government does.
  • Buying online — 65 percent of adult Internet users buy online (the same as in 2008), and make an average of 35.2 purchases per year (up from 34.1 per year in 2008).
  • Internet impact on traditional retail declines — 61 percent of Internet users said that online purchasing has reduced their buying in traditional retail stores — down from 69 percent in 2008.
  • Top 10 online purchases — 59 percent of Internet users said they purchase books or clothes online, followed by gifts (55 percent), travel (53 percent), electronics/appliances (47 percent), videos (46 percent), computers or peripherals (41 percent), software or games (40 percent), CDs (40 percent), and products for hobbies (38 percent).
  • The study found that as sources of information – their primary function – newspapers rank below the Internet or television.  Only 56 percent of Internet users ranked newspapers as important or very important sources of information for them – a decrease from 60 percent in 2008 and below the Internet (78 percent), and television (68 percent).
  • Even lower are the percentages of users who consider newspapers important as sources of entertainment for them, now considered important by 29 percent of Internet users, and down from 32 percent in 2008 – also last among principal media.
  • Eighteen percent of Internet users said they stopped a subscription to a newspaper or magazine because they now get the same or related content online – down slightly from 22 percent in 2008, but nevertheless a strong indication that print newspapers can be sacrificed by a significant percentage of Internet users.
  • Internet users were asked where they would go for information provided by their newspaper if the print edition ceased, 59 percent said they would read the online edition of the publication; only 37 percent said they would instead read the print edition of another newspaper.
  • Twenty-two percent of users who read newspapers said they would not miss the print edition of their newspaper.
  • Sixty-one percent of users said that only half or less of online information is reliable — a new low level for the Digital Future Project.
  • Even more disturbing is that 14 percent of Internet users said that only a small portion or none of the information online is reliable – a percentage that has grown for the past three years and is now at the highest level thus far in the Digital Future Project.
  • Also revealing is the percentage of users who have limited trust even in the Web sites they visit regularly: although 78 percent said that most or all of the information on the sites they visit regularly is reliable (a decline from the previous two years), 22 percent of users say that only one half or less of information on sites they visit regularly is reliable.
  • Even search engines such as Google and Yahoo – traditional stalwarts of online credibility – have lost some of their luster.   While 53 percent of Internet users said that most or all of the information provided by search engines is reliable and accurate, that percentage declined slightly in the current Digital Future Study and is well below the peak of 64 percent in 2006.
  • 36 percent of users said only about half of information provided by search engines is reliable and accurate, and 12 percent said only a small portion or none of it was reliable.
  • Only 46 percent of users said they have some trust or a lot of trust in the Internet in general.  Nine percent of users have no trust in the Internet.

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