Internet Usage in the U.S. – Statistics & Facts Updated, 2021

Internet Usage in the U.S. – Statistics & Facts Updated, 2021

December 1, 2023

Just six years ago, in 2015, the top searched keywords in Google were “Lamar Odom” and “Jurassic World.” In 2020, they were “election results” and “coronavirus.” Gee, wonder why? Consistent with our mission that every American should have access to high-speed broadband internet, we’ve assembled the most important statistics about the use of the most important invention in modern history here in the United States.

Table of Contents

Internet Usage Over Time: Some Warmup Facts

  • About 93% of adults in the United States use the internet. The percentage represents a huge difference from 2000, when it stood at 52%. At the midway point of 2010, it was 76%. (Source: Pew Research)
  • Just 14% of seniors 65 and older were online in 2000. In 2021, 75% were. Represent! (Source: Pew Research)

Who Uses the Internet

2000 2010 2021
18 to 29 years old: 70% were online
30 to 49 years old: 61%
50 to 64 years old: 46%
65 and older: 14%
18 to 29 years old: 92% were online
30 to 49 years old: 85%
50 to 64 years old: 74%
65 and older: 43%
18 to 29 years old: 99% are online
30 to 49 years old: 98%
50 to 64 years old: 98%
65 and older: 75%

(Source: Pew Research)

What We Search For

Top Google U.S. searches in 2020 Top Google U.S. searches in 2015
  1. Election results
  2. Coronavirus
  3. Kobe Bryant
  4. Coronavirus update
  5. Coronavirus symptoms
  6. Zoom
  7. Who is winning the election
  8. Naya Rivera
  9. Chadwick Boseman
  10. PlayStation 5

Source: Google Trends 2020

  1. Lamar Odom
  2. Jurassic World
  3. American Sniper
  4. Caitlyn Jenner
  5. Ronda Rousey
  6. Paris
  8. Chris Kyle
  9. Fallout 4
  10. Straight Outta Compton

Source: Google Trends 2015

What’s Cooking

Most searched for recipes, 2020> Most searched for recipes, 2015
  1. Sourdough bread
  2. Whipped coffee
  3. Disney churro
  4. Dole Whip
  5. DoubleTree cookie
  6. Ikea meatball
  7. Chaffle
  8. Hamburger bun
  9. Egg salad sandwich
  10. Healthy banana bread

Source: Google Trends 2020

  1. Pumpkin Seed Recipes
  2. Sweet Potato Fries Recipe
  3. Philly Cheese Steak Recipe
  4. Chicken Recipes
  5. Apple Pie Recipe
  6. Brownie Recipe
  7. Pesto Recipe
  8. Pancake Recipe
  9. Cabbage Recipes
  10. Chili Recipe

Source: Google Trends 2015

Who’s Online Constantly?

College grads! They’re likelier than people from other educational backgrounds to be online just about all of the time.

  • College grads, 36% online almost all the time
    Some college, 26% online almost all the time
  • High school graduate or did not finish high school, 23% online almost all the time

(Sources: Pew Research Center; MarketingCharts)

Most Internet Users Are Also on Social Media

  • Of the nearly 300 million internet users in the United States, about 240 million hang out at least a little on social media. About 269.5 million users access the internet via mobile devices. There are 233.3 million active mobile social media users.

(Sources: We Are Social; Hootsuite; DataReportal)

COVID-19 Boosted Demands for Data

  • Almost nine in every 10 Americans said internet access was important or essential during COVID-19. (Source: Pew Research)
  • The pandemic certainly increased the appetite for data among U.S. households. Average monthly usage in June 2018 was less than 225 GB and skyrocketed to just over 400 GB in March 2020. Still, 95 percent of consumers didn’t reach monthly data limits.

(Sources: Wall Street Journal; OpenVault)

Online Seniors Most Likely to Have Service at Home

Most adults who are online subscribe to an internet service at home. The rate is highest among seniors (remember these stats apply only to folks who use the internet and not to all people).

  • 18 to 34 years old, 77% subscribe at home
  • 35 to 44 years old, 84% subscribe at home
  • 45 to 64 years old, 88% subscribe at home
  • 65 and older, 95% subscribe at home

(Source: Morning Consult)

Email: Kind of Holding Its Own

Remember email? It used to be a pretty big thing. It still kind of is, even alongside texting, video chatting, and messaging. It’s not as creaky as some people might think.

  • 90.3% of internet users 15 and older use email (Sources: US Census Bureau; NTIA)
  • American Indians and Alaskan natives have the lowest percentage of email users, with 83.5% usage among these groups. Asian-Americans have the highest percentage at 92.1%. (Sources: US Census Bureau; NTIA)
  • The reach of email is greatest among the 25-to-44-year-old set, with 93.6% of folks in this group using email. A noticeable drop to 84.1% occurs with the 65-and-older set.
    • 15 to 24 years old, 90% use email
    • 25 to 44 years old, 93.6% use email
    • 45 to 64 years old, 90.1% use email
    • 65 and older, 84.1% use email

(Sources: US Census Bureau; NTIA)

Why People Use Facebook Less Plus Social Media Stats

Social media stats, perhaps more so than other types of internet stats, offer an intriguing glimpse into American life. Let’s start with Facebook since so many adults use it.

India Beats the U.S. in Facebook Users

  • India, 320 million users
  • United States, 190 million users
  • Indonesia, 140 million users
  • Brazil, 130 million users
  • Mexico, 93 million users
  • Philippines, 83 million users

(Sources: We Are Social; DataReportal; Hootsuite; Facebook)

About 73% of Facebook users 15 and older log on every day.

  • Daily, 73%
  • Weekly, 93%
  • Monthly, 98%

(Source: AudienceProject)

However, the percentage of people in the United States using Facebook has decreased.

  • 2017: 67% of people 12 and older in the United States used Facebook
  • 2018: Decrease to 62%
  • 2019: Another drop to 61%

(Source: Edison Research)

Why People Have Started Using Facebook Less

  • Rants or comments that got too personal contributed in 60% of cases
  • Negativity, 59% of cases
  • Political posts, 58% of cases
  • Privacy concerns, 57% of cases
  • Prefer other social media platforms, 47% of cases
  • Friends don’t post enough, 47% of cases
  • Mental health break: 39% of cases
  • Parents or relatives on Facebook: 31% of cases

(Source: Edison Research)

Females vs. Males on Facebook, 13 or Older

More females than males use Facebook, but the difference is not as pronounced as it is on Twitter (more on that soon).

  • About 54.8 of Facebook’s users are female. 45.3% are male.
  • In the 25-34 age group, the user percentage for males and females is an identical 12.7%.
  • Women live longer than men. We’re guessing that could partly explain the widening male/female disparity as people get older. For instance, 7.2% of Facebook’s users are female aged 65 or older, while 4.2% are men 65 or older.

(Source: NapoleonCat)


Time to hop onto Twitter. First, we see that its users are overwhelmingly male.

Gender of Twitter Users as of January 2021

Male 61.6%
Female 38.4%

(Sources: We Are Social; Hootsuite; DataReportal)

How Many Users 18 and Older Access Twitter Daily?

About 46%, and it’s remained fairly consistent over the years.

August 2013 46%
April 2015 39%
January 2018 46%
February 2021 46%

(Source: Pew Research)

Twitter Use Frequency Among Users 15 and Older as of Third Quarter 2020

Just a smidge over half of Twitter’s users log in daily. (Compare that with about 73% for Facebook.)

Daily Weekly Monthly
52% 84% 96%

(Source: AudienceProject)

Twitter Accounts with the Most Followers as of March 2021 (in Millions, Applies Worldwide)

@barackobama 129.78
@justinbeiber 114.04
@katyperry 109.52
@rihanna 102.22
@Cristiano 91.93
@taylorswift13 88.51
@ladygaga 83.98
@ArianaGrande 82.3
@TheEllenShow 79.22
@YouTube 73.02

(Source: Socialtracker)

U.S. Brands with the Most User Engagement on Twitter Per Million Actions (Such As Retweets and Likes)

Bleacher Report 211.9
Scoompi 102
ESPN 84.1
Billboard 70.6
Barstool Sports 67
CNN 66.4
The Hill 42.1
XXL Magazine 40.8
The Dodo 39.8
The New York Times 33.9

(Source: Shareablee)

Social Media, General Stats

Social media looms over American life. About seven in 10 people use it for socialization, entertainment, and news.

  • Just 5% of adults were on social media in 2005. About half were in 2011. As of February 2021, 72% of American adults were on social media. (Source: Pew Research)
  • The most popular platforms are YouTube and Facebook. (Source: Pew Research)
    Adults under 30 are more likely to embrace Instagram (76%), Snapchat (75%), and Tiktok (55%). (Source: Pew Research)
  • Women love Pinterest a lot more than men do, while men flock to Twitter. (Source: Pew Research)
  • Nextdoor is much more common in urban than rural America. That’s logical since the app focuses on hyperlocal neighborhoods. (Source: Pew Research)

A Growing Love Affair with Social Media

2005 2011 2021
18-29 age group, 7% on social media
30-49, 6%
50-64, 4%
65+, 3%
18-29 age group, 82% on social media
30-49, 59%
50-64, 36%
65+, 12%
18-29 age group, 84% on social media
30-49, 81%
50-64, 73%
65+, 45%

(Source: Pew Research)

Most Popular Social Media Platforms Among Adults

2012 2016 2021
Facebook, 54% of adults use
Pinterest, 10%
Instagram, 9%
LinkedIn, 16%
Twitter, 13%
Facebook, 68% of adults use
Pinterest, 26%
Instagram, 28%
LinkedIn, 25%
Twitter, 21%
Facebook, 69% of adults use
YouTube, 81% (more than Facebook!)
Pinterest, 31%
Instagram, 40%
LinkedIn, 28%
Twitter, 23%
Snapchat, 25%
WhatsApp, 23%
Reddit, 18%
Tiktok, 21%
Nextdoor, 13%

(Source: Pew Research)

Frequency of Social Media Use

About 59% of Snapchat and Instagram users check in daily, while 21% use their platform weekly.

Platform Less frequently Weekly Daily
Facebook 12% 17% 70%
Snapchat 19% 21% 59%
Instagram 20% 21% 59%
Twitter 27% 27% 46%
YouTube 16% 29% 54%

(Source: Pew Research)

Teens’ Favorite Social Networks: Then and Now

Fall 2012 Fall 2020
Facebook: 42%
Twitter: 27%
Instagram: 12%
Google+: 6%
Snapchat: 34%
TikTok: 29%
Instagram: 25%
Twitter: 3%
Discord: 3%
Facebook: 2%

(Source: Piper Sandler)

We Spend the Most Time on Facebook

Comparing 2018 vs. 2020, there are not huge differences in the time we spend on social media. However, TikTok and Snapchat were tracked in 2020 and not in 2018. Overall, we seem to spend the most time on Facebook and its messenger app.

Time on Social Media from 2018 to 2020, in Minutes Per Month

Platform 2018 2020
Facebook and Messenger 908 928
Facebook 650 595
TikTok no info 555
Snapchat no info 339
Instagram 259 312
Twitter 56 94
Reddit 59 69
LinkedIn 29 40

(Sources: comScore; Activate)

Pinterest Is More Popular with Women Than Men

Facebook and YouTube are popular among both males and females. However, Pinterest is far more popular among females (53% access it vs. 18% of males), while a noticeably higher percentage of males uses Reddit (28% of males use it while 16% of females do).

Female Male
Youtube 80% 72%
Facebook 72% 64%
Instagram 56% 45%
Pinterest 53% 18%
Twitter 36% 43%
LinkedIn 28% 36%
Snapchat 24% 20%
WhatsApp 17% 20%
Reddit 16% 28%
TikTok 14% 11%

(Sources: Audience Project; AudienceProject)

And, yes, we did notice the smaller gap between male and female Twitter users in this study. Different studies will turn up different stats or measure things from slightly different angles.

Two Stats on YouTube

YouTube Is Educational

More than half (51%) of YouTube users turn to the platform to learn new things, using it for educational purposes. (Source: Pew Research)

Kids’ Videos Score Big on YouTube: The Most Viewed Videos as of Feb. 2021 (Applies Worldwide)

  1. “Baby Shark Dance” – Pinkfong Kids’ Songs & Stories, 7.91 billion views
  2. “Despacito”- Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee, 7.2 billion views
  3. “Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran, 5.18 billion views
  4. “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, 4.96 billion views
  5. “Johny Johny Yes Papa” – LooLoo Kids, 4.77 billion views
  6. “Masha and the Bear – Recipe for Disaster” – Get Movies, 4.41 billion views
  7. “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, 4.09 billion views
  8. “Gangnam Style” – Psy, 3.97 billion views
  9. “Learning Colors – Colorful Eggs on a Farm” – Miroshka TV, 3.69 billion views
  10. “Bath Song” – Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes, 3.64 billion views

(Sources: YouTube; Wikipedia)

Top-Grossing iPhone Games and Other Gaming Stats

OK, enough about social media. Let’s munch on some game stats.

  • Games are the most popular category by far in the Apple app store. Business apps come in second followed by education and lifestyle apps.

The Most Popular Apple App Store Categories (Applies Worldwide)

Games 21.53%
Business 10.11%
Education 8.67%
Lifestyle 8.62%
Utilities 6.24%
Entertainment 5.72%


Time to see which iPhone games are most lucrative. As of March 2021, Robolox was estimated to rake in about $3,093,504 daily. Yes, daily, and all these commas belong.

iPhone Top-Grossing Gaming Apps as of March 2021, by Daily Revenue

  1. Roblox, $3,093,504
  2. Candy Crush Saga, $2,026,652
  3. Coin Master, $1,095,882
  4. State of Survival: Zombie War, $940,076
  5. Homescapes, $776,355

Note the big difference between first-place Robolox and fifth-place Homescapes.

Most Popular FREE iPhone Games Based on Revenue and New Installs, April 12, 2021

Free games can mean lots of cash. For example, the previously mentioned Roblox is free and rakes in tendies galore.

How exactly does one measure popularity, though? A safe bet is to consider both revenue and new installs. Let’s take a look at popularity stats for one specific day, April 12, 2021. Roblox was second on this day to Sword Play! Ninja Slice Runner, which had more installs but brought in less money.

Game Number of New Installs (for the day) Revenue (for the day)
Sword Play! Ninja Slice Runner 337,546 $2,350
Roblox 18,308 $3,123,297
Paper Fold 302,076 $4,495
Bridge Race 261,355 $6,130
Among Us! 23,819 $353

Source: Think Gaming (for April 12)

Most Popular PAID iPhone Games Based on Revenue and Number of Installs, April 12, 2021

Paid games bring in money, too (of course!). On April 12, 2021, the most popular paid iPhone game was Minecraft, while Monopoly made the top five.

Game Price Number of New Installs (for the day) Revenue (for the day)
Minecraft $6.99 20,170 $102,326
Bloons TD 6 $4.99 12,532 $4,038
Geometry Dash $1.99 14,633 $29,120
Heads Up! $0.99 16,867 $20
Monopoly $3.99 39,126 $353

Source: Think Gaming (for April 12)

Children’s Internet Stats and the Benefits of Kids Using YouTube

Make no mistake, kids are internet consumers. Some even spend hours on their devices every day. Guess the pull of Little Baby Bum is hard to resist!

ChuChu TV Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs is the most popular child-themed YouTube channel. It has 44.8 million subscribers. El Reino Infantil has 38 million, while Little Baby Bum has 35 million. Note that these numbers apply worldwide and are not U.S.-centric. (Sources: Social Blade; YouTube)

Most popular children-themed YouTube channels as of January 2021, ranked by number of subscribers (millions)

ChuChu TV Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs 44.8
El Reino Infantil 38
Little Baby Bum 35
Masha and the Bear 32.8
Ryan’s World 28.3
CVS 3D Rhymes & Kids Songs 26
Baby Doli – ToyPudding 25.9
Galinha Pintadinha 25.6
Peppa Pig – Official Channel 21.6
Bounce Patrol – Kids Songs 20.8

Source: Statista

YouTube Is Where It’s At for Children

Kids sure do love their YouTube.

  • 80% of parents with children age 11 or younger say that their children tune into YouTube videos.
  • For kids age 0-2, the percentage is 57%.
  • It climbs to 81% at ages 3-4.
  • It tops out at 89% for children ages 5-11.

(Source: Pew Research)

Parents do see benefits in YouTube usage. Notably, it keeps their children entertained (ya think?), helps them learn new things, and exposes them to different cultures.

  • 96% of parents say YouTube sometimes or often entertains their children.
  • 88% say it’s educational.
  • 75% see exposure to new cultures as a benefit.

(Source: Pew Research)

When Should We Let Junior on Social Media?

A pressing question for parents is when to let their kids start using social media. The range seems to be from 12 years old to 17. Yeah, it’s a wide field. Meanwhile, 14% of parents say social media isn’t acceptable for children.

  • 1% of parents say that 0-2 years is acceptable.
  • 1% are on board with kids ages 3-4 using social media.
  • 2% vote for 5 to 8 years old.
  • 5% would rather wait for their kids to be 9 to 11.
  • 34% say that 12 to 14 years old is the ticket.
  • 44% want to wait longer until their kids are 15 to 17.
  • 14% urge their kids to say no to social media altogether because it’s not acceptable.

(Source: Pew Research)

How Parents Limit Kids’ Screen Time

  • 86% let children use screens only during certain times of the day or set daily limits.
  • 80% punish kids by restricting screen time.
  • 72% turn to parental controls.

(Source: Pew Research)

COVID-19 Highlighted Access Disparities

Disparities in internet access became clearer than ever during COVID-19. Many children with unreliable access or none at all fell behind as schools shifted to remote learning. Educational digital obstacles include:

  • Having to do schoolwork on a phone
  • Depending on public Wi-Fi since home doesn’t have reliable internet access
  • No access to a computer at home, so unable to finish schoolwork

About 59% of lower-income children faced at least one of these obstacles. The percentage was 30% for middle income and 13% for upper income. (Source: Pew Research)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Macaulay Culkin, and Other Search Stats

Online search can be extremely profitable. Within a few years, its ad spend should become higher than spend in TV and video. Before we dive into that, though, let’s explore what folks in the United States search for.

Google U.S. searches on Monday, April 12, 2021

  1. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 5 million+ searches
  2. Johnson and Johnson vaccine, 2 million+ searches
  3. Macaulay Culkin, 1 million+ searches
  4. Wyatt Pike, 1 million+ searches
  5. Julian Edelman, 500k+ searches

Google U.S. searches on Tuesday, April 13, 2021

  1. Coinbase stock, 2 million+ searches
  2. Bernie Madoff, 1 million+ searches
  3. Jonathan Pentland, 200k+ searches
  4. Dortmund vs. Man City, 200k+ searches
  5. Aaron Donald, 200k+ searches

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see what was on our minds in 2001, 2011, and very recently.

What We Search for on Google

2001 (only global data was available) 2011 (U.S.-specific data) 2020 (U.S.-specific data)
We searched for these men:

Osama bin Laden
Michael Jackson
Howard Stern

These women:

Britney Spears
Pamela Anderson
Jennifer Lopez

And these movies:

Harry Potter
Lord of the Rings
Final Fantasy
Tomb Raider

We searched for these images:

Kate Upton
Justin Bieber 2011
Pippa Middleton
Hope Solo

These lit-related terms:

Game of Thrones
Mona Simpson
Water for Elephants
Matthew Lewis
Jules Verne

And these people:

Rebecca Black
Scotty McCreery
Courtney Stodden
Kate Upton
Tyler, The Creator
Ryan Dunn
Pippa Middleton
Hope Solo
Troy Davis

The top trending searches were for:

Rebecca Black
Google Plus
Hurricane Irene
Ryan Dunn

These were our top searches:

Election results
Kobe bryant
Coronavirus update
Coronavirus symptoms

The people we most searched for:

Joe biden
Kim jong un
Kamala harris
Jacob blake
Ryan newman

Top phrases containing “during coronavirus”:

Best stocks to buy during coronavirus
Dating during coronavirus
Dentist open during coronavirus
Unemployment during coronavirus
Jobs hiring during coronavirus

The top definitions we searched for:


Researching Products and Services Online Before Buying

About eight in 10 Americans trust their own research before making purchases rather than relying solely on another source. Many times, this research comes from the internet: Google/online searches, forums, reviews, social media, etc.

Customer reviews and ratings help somewhat to a lot in these instances:

  • Making folks feel more confident about what they’re buying (37% a lot, 51% some)
  • Ensuring that products or services are safe (27% a lot, 53% some)
  • Holding companies accountable to customers (29% a lot, 49% some)

(Source: Pew Research)

Online Search Is Fruitful

Online search has grown even more lucrative. Within a few years, ad spend in this sphere should become higher than spend in TV and video.

Mobile Search Trumps Desktop

Most organic online search is mobile, thanks in large part to smartphones and their virtual assistants, speech recognition, and language processing capabilities.

  • In the first quarter of 2013, 27% of organic search was mobile
  • The percentage had climbed to 53% by Q1 2017
  • It was 56% in Q1 2020 and 61.6% in Q4 2020

(Source: Merkle)

  • Google is the number-one leader in online search. Its search engine is high-quality, of course. However, Google’s dominance is also powered by Google search being the default on many smartphones, tablets, and browsers.
  • Google market share of searches originating from U.S. desktops, October 2020: 81.99% (Source: StatCounter)

Bing is the only search engine alternative to Google that currently holds true sway with consumers. Other alternative search providers, including DuckDuckGo and Ecosia, have agreements to use Bing.

January 2010, Search Engine Market Share (Worldwide, Desktops) February 2021, Search Engine Market Share (Worldwide, Desktops)
Google, 90.77%
Bing, 3.41%
Yahoo, 4.12%
Google, 86.6%
Bing, 6.7%
Yahoo, 2.71%

(Source: StatCounter)

Overall, folks in the United States are pretty happy with their portals and search engines. Check out these user satisfaction numbers.

User Satisfaction with Internet Portals and Search Engines, 2020

Google 79%
Yahoo 72% 71%
Microsoft 71%
AOL 71%
Bing 71% 70%

(Source: ACSI)

Chrome is the most popular browser, with Safari not far behind. Lagging quite a bit are Firefox, Edge, and Explorer.

Browser Market Share, All Platforms

March 2020 to March 2021

  • Chrome: 46.77%
  • Safari: 37.05%
  • Firefox: 3.91%
  • Edge: 3.52%
  • Internet Explorer: 2.31%

(Source: GlobalStats)

Browser Market Share, Mobile Only

March 2020 to March 2021

  • Safari: 56.32%
  • Chrome: 36.82%
  • Samsung Internet: 4.83%
  • Firefox: 0.77%
  • Opera: 0.35%

(Source: GlobalStats)

Google was even more dominant back in 2010.

Throwback Fun: Search Engine Market Share, All Platforms

January 2010 to December 2010

  • Google: 81.62%
  • Yahoo: 8.67%
  • Bing: 7.97%
  • AOL: 0.83%
  • Ask Jeeves: 0.7%

(Source: GlobalStats)

Where the Internet Is Slowest (Wyoming!) and Fastest (New Jersey!), March 2021

If you want to know the best and worst states for high-quality internet – we’ve got a page for you! We do an annual study on the best states for internet.

5 Little-Known Facts Related to the Internet

Check out our list and stay tuned for explanations.

  1. At one point, half of all CDs produced worldwide featured the AOL logo (for AOL internet free trials).
  2. Who is the leading digital publisher in the United States? Not Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, or Verizon. Nope, the top dog is Alphabet, a company many people have not heard of. It reaches 99.4% of internet users as compared to #2 Facebook’s 95.8%. (Though Alphabet is Google’s parent company. Hmm…)
  3. Tinder is the most popular online dating app measured by audience size. If you measure by usage sessions, it’s Grindr. In 2020, online dating generated $602 million in revenue. There were 44.2 million online users and 26.6 million on smartphone apps.
  4. Smart home device sales in the United States jumped from $1.3 billion in 2016 to about $4.3 billion in 2020. Control and connectivity is the most popular device category, followed by home entertainment, comfort and lighting, security, energy management, and smart appliances.
  5. The internet is not super accessible to people with disabilities, although that changes bit by bit with advances such as Chrome live captioning. In 2019, a staggering 98% of the most popular webpages contained accessibility obstacles.

1. AOL CDs

Let’s stroll down memory lane–on pavement made of AOL free trial CDs, no less.

AOL’s free discs enticed many Americans to give the internet a chance back in the 1990s and early 2000s. They could get 500 or even 1,000 hours online absolutely free with one disc. Of course, free didn’t always mean free. You also had to have, say, a landline telephone connection and a compatible computer. Still, the discs hooked lots of folks.

Jan Brandt, former chief marketing officer of AOL, once told TechCrunch this: “At one point, 50% of the CDs produced worldwide had an AOL logo on it. We were logging in new subscribers at the rate of one every six seconds.”

You could get your hands on these CDs virtually everywhere: grocery stores, bookstores, fast food places, cereal boxes, NASCAR races, airplane meal trays, and even Omaha steak packages. People who didn’t use the CDs for free internet turned them into frisbees or coasters, or trashed them.

2. Digital Publishing

Alphabet is a collection of companies including Google, as Alphabet’s website explains. Given that, its status as #1 digital publisher makes absolute sense.

3. Online Dating

Online dating is big business in the United States. Not much explanation is needed, really. People like to connect in lots of different ways. That’s why the annual direct revenue of Tinder was $1.4 billion in 2019!

4. Smart Home Devices

Sales should continue on a robust track. For example, in 2020, 40.5 million homes featured control and connectivity smart devices (these devices include smart speakers such as Amazon Echo). The number is projected to increase to 67.2 million in 2024.

5. The Lack of Internet Accessibility

CAPTCHA verification highlights the accessibility issue, especially for people who are blind. Meanwhile, a lack of automatic live captioning is a frequent issue for the deaf and hard of hearing even with new Chrome live captioning. Plenty of problems exist despite the many accessibility solutions out there.

3 Stats about Internet Costs

  1. It is possible, although not always realistic, to get online for free. That said, the average internet plan costs $60 per consumer.
  2. Municipal networks save consumers more money than private internet providers do. Municipal networks are faster, too! (Example: Ammon, Idaho, municipal network download speed of 440 Mbps vs. private networks’ 175.18).
  3. 51% of households with incomes under $25,000 don’t have internet at home. It’s too unaffordable.

Free and Paid Internet

Free internet exists? Really? Yes, but don’t expect anything fancy or 24/7. We’re mostly talking about using school or library computers/WiFi, which introduce a host of privacy concerns (similar to using coffee shop, restaurant, or store WiFi on your phone, tablet, or computer), even when a VPN is used. Still, it is possible in some places to get online for free. Otherwise, internet costs may depend on:

  • The devices you use (tablet, smartphone, computer, etc.)
  • Whether you have separate device/cellphone and home internet plans
  • Fees such as for setup, installation, mode/router rental or other equipment rental, activation, data overage
  • The internet plans available in your area and the speeds you want

If you’re a gamer and require high speeds, you’ll have to pay more, perhaps as much as $100 a month. If multiple people in your household will be watching video streaming at the same time (such as on Netflix or Hulu), that requires a fair bit of data, too.

If you’re budget-friendly and don’t need a computer, you can go through a retailer such as Cricket and get a free phone for qualifying cellphone plans ($55 a month as of April 2021).

Municipal vs. Private Networks

Private competition isn’t necessarily a winning prospect for internet consumers. Municipal networks offer better quality and speeds. They’re also more affordable, which is especially important for lower-income consumers.


Home internet access is far from a given, something that COVID-19 in particular highlighted. Internet access can be expensive, and some families, especially in brown and black communities, go without.

COVID-19’s Effect on Internet Use

Our compilation of stats would not be complete without touching on COVID-19 (we do here and throughout the guide).

For instance, the pandemic caused plenty of folks to change certain behaviors. Namely, more people started ordering restaurant delivery or takeout instead of eating out. People also turned to online retailers for groceries, clothes, books, games, and other products instead of venturing into stores.

General Overview

  • 52% of U.S. adults shopped online more in May 2020 (during lockdowns in many states)
  • Restaurant delivery/takeaway saw the most shift from offline to online demand
  • Disposable gloves was the fastest-growing e-commerce category in March 2020
  • The fastest-declining was luggages, suitcases, and briefcases (no surprise!)
  • Toilet paper was the most common search item from March 8 to March 14, 2020
  • Pasta was the grocery product that saw the most year-over-year online sales growth
  • Instacart had the biggest increase in app downloads in March 2020
  • In-home data usage jumped 18% March 1-17, 2020, from the previous year
  • Education app downloads skyrocketed by 1,087% between March 2-16, 2020
  • Online gaming data usage increased 75%

Sources: Statista (e-commerce, online usage)

Shop Online Until You Drop: E-Commerce Stats

How Big Is Amazon Prime’s Reach?

In June 2020, Amazon Prime featured impressive penetration.

  • 81% of users 18 to 34 years old had Prime
  • 68% of users 35 to 54 had Prime
  • 60% of users 55 and older did

(Sources: eMarketer; Bizrate Insights)

COVID-19/lockdowns probably factored into the high subscription rates, though. In February 2020, just a few months before June, the percentages were lower.

  • 69% of users 18 to 34 years old had Prime
  • 63% of users 35 to 54 had Prime
  • 52% of users 55 and older did

(Sources: eMarketer; Bizrate Insights)

Why Americans Use Prime

  • Free one-day shipping, 89%
  • Amazon Prime Video, 57%
  • Free same-day shipping, 45%
  • Exclusive deals, 35%
  • Other, 17%
  • Amazon Prime Music, 14%

(Sources: Digital Commerce 360; RBC Capital Markets)

Why Americans Shop on Amazon

  • Fast, free shipping, 79.8%
  • Product selection, 68.9%
  • Prime, 65.7%
  • Best pricing, 49.2%
  • Easy returns, 43.7%
  • Best digital shopping experience, 42%
  • Reviews and recommendations, 40.5%
  • Unique items, 22.3%
  • Proactive communication during delivery, 17.8%

(Sources: Convey; eMarketer)

Kroger Notches a Win

Kroger beats Amazon and Walmart at some things. For instance, it rakes in more dough (money!) when it comes to food and beverage e-commerce sales. Here’s a look at the top food and beverage retailers and their 2019 sales in the millions of dollars.

  •, 2,285
  •, 1,734
  •, 1,569
  •, 455
  •, 359
  •, 342
  •, 331
  •, 325
  •, 305
  •, 279

(Sources:; Statista)

Top Reasons Shoppers Buy Used Clothes on Resale Websites

  • Lower prices, 50%
  • Sustainability, 17%
  • Higher-end brand names, 11%
  • Style, 9%
  • Other, 14%

(Source: CivicScience)

Most Annoying Types of Online Ads

Even advertisers admit that ads can be irritating. However, some types stand out as particularly awful. Here’s what really rankles folks.

  • Video ads that play automatically with sound on, annoyed 66.7% of internet users in 2019
  • Video ads playing automatically but with no sound, annoyed 55% of users
  • Audio ads on podcasts and music streaming, annoyed 47.5% of users
  • Ads based on online searches (is big brother watching?), annoyed 42.4% of users
  • Banner ads for products already purchased, annoyed 36.7% of users

All that noted, 10% of users don’t get annoyed by digital ads. Jealous!

(Sources: Bizrate Insights; eMarketer)

Online Advertising Revenue, 2020

A huge chunk of online ad profitability comes from search. Display ads don’t do too bad, either.

  • Search, 42.2%
  • Display, 31.5%
  • Digital video, 18.7%
  • Other, 7.6%

(Sources: PwC; IAB)

The Devices and Operating Systems We Prefer

We gravitate toward Apple mobile devices. Check out these vendor market share numbers.

Mobile Vendor Market Share

March 2020 to March 2021

  • Apple: 60.08%
  • Samsung: 24.46%
  • LG: 4.66%
  • Motorola: 3.19%
  • Google: 2.49%
  • Huawei: 0.95%

(Source: StatCounter)

As for tablets, the story is similar. Give us Apples!

Tablet Vendor Market Share

March 2020 to March 2021

  • Apple: 63.94%
  • Amazon: 13.79%
  • Samsung: 13.64%

(Source: StatCounter)

The competition among operating systems on all platforms is much narrower. Apple’s iOS has a slight advantage over Windows.

Operating System Market Share, All Platforms

March 2020 to March 2021

  • iOS: 31.07%
  • Windows: 30.81%
  • Android: 20.27%
  • OS X: 13.7%
  • Chrome OS: 2.42%
  • Linux: 0.85%

(Source: StatCounter)

The iOS advantage widens considerably when mobile only is considered.

Operating System Market Share, Mobile Only

March 2020 to March 2021

  • iOS: 60.08%
  • Android: 39.72%

(Source: StatCounter)

Windows has the clear advantage over Apple’s OS X with desktop systems.

Operating System Market Share, Desktop Only

March 2020 to March 2021

  • Windows: 63.62%
  • OS X: 28.3%
  • Chrome OS: 5%
  • Linux: 1.75%

(Source: StatCounter)

Folks use desktops and mobile devices in about equal numbers, although tablets are, well, mobile. So, actually, we give mobile the win here.

Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Tablet: Which Do People Use More?

March 2020 to March 2021

  • Desktop: 48.48%
  • Mobile: 47.31%
  • Tablet: 4.21%

(Source: StatCounter)

Pre-pandemic stats are similar. Tablet usage is the category with the most noticeable difference.

Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Tablet

March 2019 to March 2020

  • Desktop: 47.01%
  • Mobile: 46.65%
  • Tablet: 6.34%

(Source: StatCounter)

That’s All for Now

We hope you enjoyed this compilation of stats. It’s fascinating to see how wide-ranging the internet is. It touches people of all ages from toddlers to seniors but is not affordable for many families. Nor is it entirely accessible to people with disabilities. There’s a lot of work to do, much fun to be had, and plenty more stats to uncover.

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