Study: Americans Have Faith in Internet’s Abilities

By: Anick Jesdanun, AP Internet Writer

(AP) Even the unconnected appreciate the Internet.

A study released Sunday finds that most Americans who do not use the Internet still have high expectations for getting information online — with those online having even greater expectations.

According to the telephone-based survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 64% of nonusers expect to be able to find information in at least one of the following four categories — health care, government, news, and shopping.

In fact, 16% of the nonusers say they would turn to the Internet first the next time they need health care and government information.

“The Internet has become such a go-to tool in America that even non-Internet users think it’s an effective way to get information,” said John Horrigan, a senior research specialist at Pew.

How can nonusers know what the Internet offers?

Horrigan said past research shows that many nonusers had access at one point or live in households where someone else can log on for them.

Meanwhile, 97% of Americans who use the Internet expect to find information in one or more of the categories. Overall, 84% of all Americans have such thoughts.

And often, expectation translates to success.

At least 70% of the people who have sought information in each category say they usually find what they are seeking. The greatest successes are in news and shopping; government ranks the lowest.

Expectations are lower when it comes to information about other people. Only 31% of Americans believe they could find reliable information on the Internet about someone else. However, 58% expect to be able to reach someone through e-mail.

The study was based on phone calls made randomly Sept. 9 to Oct. 6 to 2,092 adults, including 1,318 Internet users. The margin of error was 2 percentage points for the general sample, 3 percentage points for the sample of only users, and 4 percentage points for nonusers.

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