Who remembers the popularity of AOL in the 90’s, say around 1995? I can still remember to sound of the dial-up connection when logging on! While most (not everyone!) do not have an AOL account and have since switched to broadband connections, people are still using the Internet to find information and stay connected to others. However, the ways in how they are doing this have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Read on as we explore some of the biggest ways the Internet is used in 2014.
We Use it Everyday
According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 87% of people use the Internet every single day, compared to only 14% in 1995. We see it in businesses, restaurants, schools, literally EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME! But when you think about how dependent we are on computers to do daily tasks, it is not surprising that the Internet is so widely used now. In addition, a majority of American households now have access to the Internet, seeing it as a necessity for everyday life.
TV and Movies
Companies like Youtube and Netflix are giant successes involving the Internet media industry. Where in the 90s, you would have to wait until your favorite TV show or movie came out on VHS or DVD to watch again, now you just make a few clicks on these sites, and your can binge watch for hours and hours. There are literally thousands of videos available for streaming (at a price) on these sites, and they have made it so easy for the average user to access whatever they want to watch. And isn’t it amazing that you can stream videos to your phone and TV now!?
Over the past 10 years, sites like Facebook and Twitter have engaged Internet users like never before. Yes, AOL Instant Messenger was a type of social media and did exist prior to this, but not on the scale that social media sites do now. We are more connected to each other than ever, making it so much easier to stay in touch. It’s no longer difficult to communicate with an old college buddy when you can just friend them on Facebook or follow them on Instagram. And teens use social media to stay even closer to friends they probably see everyday. It’s a one-stop shop to sharing pictures, videos, stories, and events that are happening to you or those around you.
Unfortunately, with the good of the Internet also comes the bad. With the increase of social media and spreading of readily available information, negative commenting has become a common practice on sites. Say a story is published about a hot button topic on a news site. While it might be a harmless op-ed piece, you might find the most hateful and terrible words being written in the comments section. People often view the Internet as a place to air their dirty laundry and throw caution to the wind regarding what is appropriate to say to another person. And since you don’t have to see this person face-to-face to say these things, it is easier to be mean or candid. This especially occurs when opposing viewpoints are expressed.