Poll finds nearly 80 percent of U.S. adults go online

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Do you find yourself going online more and more? You’re not alone.

A woman uses a mouse in an undated file photo. Four out of five U.S. adults go online now, according to a new Harris Poll. REUTERS/Catherine Benson

Four out of five U.S. adults go online now, according to a new Harris Poll.

The survey, which polled 2,062 adults in July and October, found that 79 percent of adults -- about 178 million -- go online, spending an average 11 hours a week on the Internet.

“We’re up to almost 80 of adults who now are online, or are somehow gaining access to the Internet. That’s a pretty impressive figure,” said Regina Corso, director of the Harris Poll.

The results reflect a steady rise since 2000, when 57 percent of adults polled said they went online. In 2006, the number was 77 percent.

When Harris Interactive, a market research firm, first began tracking online use among adults in 1995, the group found that only nine percent of the population -- or 17.5 million -- said they went online.

The poll also found that adults are spending more time online at home and at work, up two percent each at 72 percent and 37 percent respectively, from 2006. More dramatically, 31 percent of those surveyed said they went online elsewhere, up from 22 percent in 2006.

“They are finding however possible to get online...A third of the people who are online, that’s how they’re getting there - some alternate way,” said Corso.

Demographically, the poll showed the online population aligning more with the general population.

For example, the poll showed that 25 percent of adults who went online were between 18 and 29 years old -- the same age group makes up 22 percent of the U.S. adult population.

Hispanics make up 13 percent of the adult population, and also made up 13 percent of the online population surveyed.

The poll also found that while online access is still dominated by younger adults, nine percent of those that go online are 65 years old and older, compared to the 16 percent of adults who are 65 and over.

“We’re getting closer. Every year it’s getting more and more like the general population picture,” said Corso.

“Baby boomers are online. As they become more and more part of that population, we’re going to see larger swings there.”

As the online population gets closer to 100 percent, Corso said the next step was to see how people are getting online.

“It’s not just a laptop or a desktop anymore. How many of these people are using some kind of hand held device for all of their online activity?”

Reporting by Solarina Ho