Subject Line: I've now added "use the internet" to my list of daily activities, along with eating, sleeping, and intermittent bathroom breaks between surfing.
1) After you have thoroughly read the first Pew report, list the three trends that you most identify with (good or bad) within this report.
1. “Email continues to trump all as the most popular use of the internet.” According to the Pew Reports “the longer a user is online, the more likely she is to cite the positive effect on her social ties” (8). I agree that email can keep people connected in a way previous not available. Friends and family may exchange letters and photos daily. I feel that email has allowed me to continue friendship ties that may otherwise have been severed by distance. I am a woman. Women’s email use for social ties is higher than in men. However, I can see the negative aspects of email too. I long for a personalized, hand-written letter of yore. I keep saying that I will send letters to friends yet I keep relying on email. Email can be impersonal, especially if one sends a general letter and BCC’s all friends.
Email also helps people communicate
“more efficiently” with government (9). People who otherwise would not
write a letter may get involved when email is so easy. Email allows
citizens to reach government officials quickly on matters that may not
be able to wait a week for a letter to arrive.
2. “About a quarter of internet users have participated in chat rooms or online discussion.” I actually find this percentage too low. More people could benefit from connecting to people with similar interests. Chat rooms are an especially viable means of communication for people who are ill or disabled and not able to go out and meet people, or people isolated in rural areas who may not meet people with the same interests in their small town. However, chat rooms can be places where participants are harassed and bullied. Flames are common. Given the “high proportion of those...with lesser educational attainment” in chat rooms it is understandable that discussions do not always involve critical thinking and mature dialogue (13). I find myself lurking in chat rooms sometimes, because although the subject matter interests me, I have no desire to participate if I feel there is no intelligent dialogue.
3. “Most internet users have searched for answers to specific questions.” A full “83% of users have done a search online” or “93 million” according to the PEW Reports (17). The internet is a great source for quick answers. Answers are generally only a few clicks away, which is much faster than the times people had to get in their cars and drive to the library. And even then they had to scour through books which may not yield answers to their question. With everything compiled in one spot on the internet, searches are simple. However, the negative part of looking on the internet is the overabundance of information that is poorly researched, or merely anecdotal. Many answers are wrong, so the user must be savvy in determining which resources are reliable and which are not. Even these statistics may not be reliable anymore since they are seven years old and trends change so quickly.
2.) Pretend that you are trying to explain to a novice computer user how they can integrate the Internet into their daily activities. Using the data presented in the second and third reports what would you tell the person about how the Internet could enhance their lives?
According to the PEW Reports, 32 million internet users have used the internet to choose a school, and 47 million have received training online (4, 5). As an online college student myself I could tell the new user the benefits of online education. It can be just as rigorous and challenging as on-campus programs, but the student does not have to waste gas money driving to school, and studies are easily worked around job schedules. Even if people decided on furthering their education and training in person, I could tell them that comparing and contrasting programs is quick and easy online.
According to the PEW Reports, 19% of users used online banking. I would encourage new users to set up an online account. I just made a credit card payment online yesterday and I did not have to worry whether the check will arrive on time, if it arrives at all. I can tell them that online banking is quick, easy, and will give them peace of mind.
Thirty percent check the weather. The websites are updated throughout the day so you know how to dress for any weather. I will tell the new users that they can check 10 day forecasts so they know which clothes to pack for traveling. I always do this before I go anywhere.