Why do people use the Internet?

Top 10 reasons why people use the Internet, and how to know when it’s gone too far. Do you know the signs of Internet addiction? More here.

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The Internet has changed our lives. In fact, people spend more and more hours on the Internet the longer they have been using it. which means a great deal in terms of addictiveness and reliance. But although it may seem obvious, we answer the question, “Why do people use it?” here.

We have reviewed the literature from university studies over the years and offer you a list of the Top 10 reasons why people turn to the web, again and again. If you think that you have something to add to this list, please do so in the comment section below. And be sure to check out more information on symptoms of Internet addiction here.  Internet addiction – not just a teenage phenomenon!

Top 10 reasons people use the Internet

1. Information – The Internet is arguably one of the most successful and useful tools mankind has ever created. It is, in fact, the largest library ever created, and is growing daily. Although you need to always be careful of your sources, the Internet is THE modern source of information, delivered in multiple media: written word, visual graphics and images, video, and audio have changed the way that we humans look for and find information.

2. Communication – People use the Internet to communicate with one another. Software has made it possible to stream voice and video across the world with minimal delay, and email has become the main means of communicating for many a modern person. Without the Internet, it would be both more expensive and slower to maintain personal and professional relationships.

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3. Entertainment – Many people use the Internet to enjoy themselves and to engage in personal interests. In recent years, multiple player games and virtual worlds have engaged the time and money of many. Plus, video and music are easy to find, stream and download…plus, the medium encourages feedback! Indeed, Internet use can go too far. But how can you know if you’re addicted to the Internet? We list the criteria and signs of Internet addiction in the link above.

4. Work – The Internet provides an alternative to 9-5 workdays, as more and more people can work from home, or “telecommute”. Plus, a growing number of people are making a living from the Internet itself, wither becoming experts in how people search the Internet, providing IT or web development services, or specializing in Internet marketing.

5. School – More and more elementary, high school and university curricula require use of the Internet for school work.

6. Relationships – People use the Internet to find, maintain, or end relationships. But people can get addicted to social networks, too. More on how to know if you’re a Facebook addict here.

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7. Market – People use the Internet to research, find and buy services and products. Or to target and sell to the ultimate consumer. In effect, the Internet has become THE best way to buy and sell merchandise, as online “stores” are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

8. Sexuality – Although it may surprise you, it’s no secret that a real majority of search is centered around porn. So, people [men] use the Internet to view pornography and to engage their sexual instinct.

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9. Self expression – People not only consume information on the Internet, they CREATE it. And in doing so, people are able to express themselves politically, artistically, vocally, socially, etc. and give voice to what is important to them. The Internet is the ultimate forum on which you can discuss or monologue as you like.

10. Ask for help – The protocol for Internet use is one of private consumption without need for naming yourself. By virtue of the privacy and anonymity factor of cyber space, Some people use the Internet to ask for help. People ask for help in the form of emotional support, medical advice, or even simply listening.

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If you think that you may be an Internet addict, there is help out there for you. If you want to explore the deeper emotional and psychological issues for compulsive use of the Internet, first start by asking for help from your family doctor. S/He may refer you to a mental health specialist or center for technology addictions in your area. Or, if there are no specialists that live in your area, you might even consider videoconferencing, a form of distance psycho therapy that is starting to help people, no matter where you are. Whatever the case, you may need help to uncover the real reasons behind your reliance on the Internet, and to learn how to cut back and monitor Internet use for a healthy mind.

Questions about Internet or technology-based addictions? Leave them here. We’re happy to answer them as we can!

References sources: Standford University Internet use study
Carnegie Mellon Why do people use the Internet? study
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Number 8 is sexist. Women use the internet to watch porn too….Not saying I do but I know people so I know this is a lie it should be “MEN AND WOMEN” Thank you, next

  2. I do agree with you when you said the more and more schools and universities are relying on the internet for their school works. I noticed that my younger brother frequently surfs the internet through his phone to submit homework and do research. That is why I am thinking that it might be a good idea to have a high-speed internet connection in our home to make his searches easier. Anyway, thank you for sharing this.

  3. I find that the internet is an incredible resource, afforded to us by really nothing that we have done in this era, but out of the collective grace to humanity (with the exception of men like major developers and, of course, Tim Burners Lee). I wrote a blog post about the internet and how we fail to use it for what it has the potential to create. Sort of like having a hammer in front of you and a nail in front of you, yet refusing to use the hammer. The practical implications are enormous.

    One reason that leads me to feel that it’s an addiction for myself is that so many people tend to be evasive or cautious in regards to the internet. Particularly with social media, it’s almost as if there’s a lack of trust that the person on the other end of the network is still an actual living person trying to communicate to you. What’s the deal with that? I don’t actually know why people are like this.

    For example, I quitted facebook a few years ago because I saw that people weren’t actually using it for the resource that it was. To me that’s a little strange. I would have felt that people would jump right in and get their hands dirty to help themselves, and the world too, grow more richly through this communication eutopia that it truly is.

  4. The link to the source (http://news.stanford.edu/pr/00/000216Internet.html) is broken, so I wouldn’t regard it to be reliable until this is patched.
    That being said, bracketing [men] on point 8 seemed to suggest that using the internet for purposes of sexuality was exclusive to men. It took about 5 minutes of Googling to find a study done by Pew research center showing that 1/3 of those who watch are, in fact, women. Of course, the case could still be made that it was put to represent the dominating majority, but the fact that the article is titled “Why do people use the Internet” and not “Why do men and women use the Internet” coupled with the fact that this is the only point to analyze a sub-demographic seem to indicate some clearly intentional author bias.

  5. I Find the fact the you put “men” in bracket on your #8 reason Very Ignorant. If you didn’t know before well now I’m telling you, Women watch porn too.

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