The Internet is good for you and society, according to an Australian National University poll.
The eighth ANUpoll, The Internet and Civil Society, shows increased use of the Net is leading to a more politically engaged and socially inclusive society.
Far from increasing social isolation because users are in front of a computer screen, the Net is having a positive effect on civil society.
As the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out begins across Australia, the poll provides a snapshot of Internet usage in Australia including how many households have Internet access, how often people use the Internet and what they use it for.
ANU vice-chancellor, Professor, Ian Young, states, “The results from ANUpoll are largely positive, and counter the pessimistic view that the Internet is undermining effective social relations and good citizenship.
“Frequent Internet users are not more socially disengaged than their counterparts who rely on personal interaction. They are at least as good citizens, and report similar or higher levels of social capital.
“Understanding how the Internet is changing society is a key challenge for social science in the twenty-first century.”
Some of the findings from ANUpoll include:
- Frequent Internet use is helping people with social interaction. For example, 54 per cent of respondents said that the Internet helped them interact with people from other countries.
- Increased Internet usage is not leading to a more individualistic society. For example, 70 per cent of those who use the Internet more than once a day felt that to be a good citizen it was very important to support people who are worse off than themselves.
- About one-third of respondents said the Internet had helped them interact with people of a different race from their own, and half of respondents said the Internet has helped them interact with people from other countries.
- Around one in four respondents said they had visited the websites of political organisations or candidates, and one-in-five said they had forwarded electronic messages with political content.
- A total of 82 per cent of respondents had broadband access, and two-thirds said they uses the Internet at least once a day.
The ANUpoll is a survey of Australian public opinion on matters of national importance. It differs from other opinion polls by benchmarking Australia against international opinion.
The eighth poll was put together by Professor Ian McAllister and Dr Juliet Pietsch of the School of Political and International Relations at ANU.
It is conducted for ANU by the Social Research Centre, Melbourne. The survey is a national random sample of the adult population aged 18 years and over conducted by telephone. In the latest survey, 1200 people were interviewed between from December 2-16, 2010, with a response rate of 37.4 per cent. The results were weighted to represent the national population. The survey’s margin of error is ± 2.5 per cent.