New Study: Digital Increasing Online Social Awareness

The 2008 Digital Future Project, conducted by the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, identified several trends pertaining to Web usage, including increasing online community membership and the role of the Internet in the political process. Among the findings:

•    80% of surveyed Internet users ages 17 and older consider the Internet to be an important source of information for them;
•    Membership in online communities has more than doubled in only three years. 54% of online community members log into their community at least once a day;
•    75% of online community members said they use the Internet to participate in communities related to social causes, with 40% saying that they use the Internet at least monthly to participate in such communities;
•    87% are participating in social causes that are new to them since their involvement in online communities began;
•    55% of users say they feel as strongly about their online communities as they do about their real-world communities;
•    64% agree that the Internet has become important for political campaigns; and,
•    Only 22% believe that the Internet is a tool to encourage public officials to care more about what people think, while only 28% agree that using the Internet gives people more of a say in what government does.

In the current project, these percentages of Internet users were involved in these activities at least weekly:

•    E-mail (96%)
•    Internet surfing without a specific destination (71%)
•    Looking for news (60%)
•    Finding product information (43%)
•    Conducting online banking or other financial services (38%)
•    Instant messaging (37%)
•    Playing online games (35%)
•    Searching for humorous content (25%)

Source: Center for the Digital Future