Pew: More U.S. adults say they are constantly online

Pew: More U.S. adults say they are constantly online
A recent Pew Research Center survey found more U.S. adults feel they are constantly online. (Source: KCBD)

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A recent Pew Research Center survey shows more than 30% of U.S. adults feel they are online constantly. That is up from more than 20% in 2015.

Devin Mills, an associate professor of Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences at Texas Tech, says this is not too surprising because a lot more things are online.

“I wonder if the pandemic has amplified that a bit,” Mills said. “Are you seeing individuals who are more compelled to be online?”

But technology now offers more ways to connect to others. Because of pandemic isolation, it may be people were looking for ways to make connections to others during earlier shutdowns.

In his work with Community, Family and Addiction Sciences, he says that means there are still ways to get addicted to some aspects related to technology and being online.

But now researchers are started to look at what people are looking into. And it depends on what is being done online.

“The field is starting to move away from the idea of internet addiction as a whole,” Mills said. “Moving more toward internet as a medium.”

His research is centered around gambling and video gaming. If people are constantly going online to gamble or play that is indicative of a problem.

“I always caution about, just because you see some sort of excessive use,” Mills said. “Or from your perspective they’re playing a lot, doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem there.”

Excessive is also difficult to define.

It depends on roles people have within their household. If they have the extra time and they spend it online, gaming or gambling, then it may not be an issue.

“Are you the head of household? Are you a parent? For some people five hours a week might be excessive given all the different roles they have,” Mills said.

And people may have become used to being online, given the social isolation during the pandemic.

For those who feel they need to detach, it may be as simple as turning off phone notifications, so they do not feel it necessary to check a phone all the time.

“So there might be periods in which we feel we’re online more than we should be. But acknowledge that it is a difficult time and that’s OK,” Mills said. “Especially if you’re socializing and trying to find a group.”

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