College Students Are Wired

College Students Are Wired

The generation that grew up with the personal computer relies on the Internet in every dimension of college life. 86% of college students use the Internet, compared to 59% of the overall U.S. population, and the students say the Internet is essential to their academic and social lives according to a report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project titled, "The Internet Goes to College"

There are nearly 14,500,000 students enrolled in colleges and universities across the country according to recent figures from the 2002 Chronicle of Higher Education, making up roughly 5% of the U.S. population. They are predominantly white (68%) and there are slightly more women than men enrolled in college (56% of college students are women). 59% are full-time students. 71% attend their first choice of college, and 79% attend college in their home state.

College students have been at the forefront of social change since the end of World War II. They were among the first in the U.S. to use the Internet for communication, recreation and file sharing, and the first to have regular broadband Internet access. Studying college students’ Internet habits can yield insight into future online trends.

College students are heavy users of the Internet compared to the general population, in part because they have grown up with computers. It is integrated into their daily communication habits and has become a technology as ordinary as the telephone or television.

  • 20% of today’s college students began using computers between the ages of 5 and 8. By the time they were 16 to 18 years old all of today’s current college students had begun using computers.
  • Eighty-six percent of college students have gone online, compared with 59% of the general population.
  • 72% checking email at least once a day.
  • 49% first began using the Internet in college; 47% first began using it at home before they arrived at college.
  • 85% of college students own their own computer, and 66% use at least two email addresses.
  • Seventy-eight percent of college Internet users say that at one time or another they have gone online just to browse for fun, compared to 64% of all Internet users.
  • College Internet users are twice as likely to have ever downloaded music files when compared to all Internet users: 60% of college Internet users have done so compared to 28% of the overall population.
  • 79% agree that Internet use has had a positive impact on their college academic experience.
  • 73% of college students say they use the Internet more than the library.

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