Archive for the Technology Category

Brookings Institution analysis shows that about 8 in 10 U.S. households now have a subscription to broadband internet

The Metropolitan Policy Center at the Brookings Institution recently published an analysis of data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey concerning national broadband internet adoption, including cable, fiber optic, or DSL internet service. They found that while broadband subscriptions are rising, there are still gaps in this essential service.

Brookings’ analysis found that, overall, people in the U.S. are rapidly adopting broadband technology. In 2013, about 7 in 10 (73%) households across the U.S. had a broadband subscription. By 2017, broadband subscription had jumped to about 8 in 10 (83%) U.S. households.

The national picture matches that seen in the 100 largest metro areas, which saw a similar jump from a 75% broadband adoption rate in 2013 to 86% in 2017. Metro areas that had low adoption rates in 2013 tended to see the most growth – areas like El Paso, TX (64% to 81%), Jackson, MS (65% to 82%) and Youngstown, OH (64%-80%). In El Paso, this means that about 50,000 more households had access to in-home internet in 2017 than did in 2013.

Access to quality internet is becoming increasingly important in the United States and is required for everything from completing web-based homework to applying for jobs, which is a problem for the 2 in 10 households that still do not have home internet. Some estimates have shown that libraries and other community institutions are key to filling in these gaps in broadband access. And, until every home has access to quality internet, libraries have the opportunity to provide this service and ensure that everyone is able to fully participate in an increasingly digital society.

For more information, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Common Sense Media study finds that high percentages of teens have smartphones, use them a lot, and have trouble disconnecting – even to sleep

Image credit: Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that studies youth and media, recently released the 2018 “Social Media, Social Life” report on teens and social media. The report summarizes the results of “a nationally representative survey of 1,141 13 to 17 year olds in the United States.”

Since the survey was last administered in 2012, there were several key shifts. In 2018, 70% of respondents reported using social media multiple times a day, as opposed to only 34% in 2012. More teens also have a smartphone; 89% have one today, compared to only 41% in 2012.

The study also found that social media is particularly important to teens who report a lower sense of well-being (happiness, self-esteem, etc.). Almost half of teens (46%) with low well-being report that social media is “extremely” or “very” important in their lives. Teens with low well-being are also more likely to experience cyber bullying: 35% of this group report being cyberbullied while only 5% of teens with high well-being report cyberbullying.   

While the majority of teens in the US are using social media, 72% of respondents “believe that tech companies manipulate users to spend more time on their devices.” The majority of respondents (68%) also believe that “Social media has a negative impact on many people my age.”

Teens report that disconnecting from their devices is challenging. They were the least likely to turn off or put away their phone most or all of the time when with friends (16%), and most likely to disconnect when going to sleep (56%). Interestingly, a third of teens (33%) also report that they “wish their parents would spend less time on their devices.” This statistic is also on the rise from 21% in 2012.   

Young people use technology at home, at school, and in public libraries. Because technology is an omnipresent part of young people’s lives, they need to learn the skills to navigate technology successfully. School and public libraries, in partnership with families, are both important places for teens to learn about using technology wisely and being good digital citizens.

 

The full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Pew survey finds that only 51% of US teens use Facebook, down from 71% in 2015

Image credit: Pew Research

Pew Research Center recently published the results of its Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018 study. Pew surveyed US teens aged 13-17 to gather information about their use and views of social media, providing an update to a similar study published in 2015.

For the first time, Facebook is no longer the most popular social media platform among America’s teenagers. About half (51%) of teens surveyed report that they use Facebook, down from the 7 in 10 (71%) who said the same in 2015. In 2018, higher percentages of the teens surveyed say they use YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%), and Snapchat (69%) than Facebook.

The largest share of teens surveyed (45%) say that social media has neither a positive nor negative effect on themselves and their peers. About a third (31%) believe that social media has a mostly positive effect, while about a quarter (24%) say the effects of social media have been mostly negative.

Of the teens who say that the effect of social media is mostly positive, 2 in 5 (40%) cite staying connected with friends and family as the main reason for its positive impact. Others say that social media makes it easier to find news and information (16%), meet others with similar interests (15%), and express themselves (9%).

About a quarter (27%) of teens with a negative perception of social media say that social media has made it easier to bully and spread rumors about others. Other respondents believe that social media is harmful to relationships (17%), gives an unrealistic view of others’ lives (15%), or that there is peer pressure to live up to that unrealistic view (12%).

The full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Library Journal and SirsiDynix find that 2 in 5 public libraries offer a mobile device app to their patrons

App design for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina

Library Journal, in collaboration with SirsiDynix, recently conducted a survey of 618 public libraries to gather information about mobile device trends in libraries. Their report reveals the increasing use of mobile-friendly websites and apps in public libraries.

Out of the libraries that responded to the survey, about 2 in 5 (37%) currently offer a mobile app to their patrons and nearly three-quarters (72%) have a website that is optimized for use on mobile devices. Libraries serving more than 500,000 patrons were more likely to respond that they have an app, resulting in about 7 in 10 (69%) larger libraries compared to a little less than a quarter (22%) of smaller libraries. Mobile optimization of the library website is more consistent across library sizes; 2 in 3 (65%) smaller libraries described their website as mobile-friendly and about three-quarters (74%-77%) of larger libraries said the same.

Library apps serve varying purposes for each library, but nearly all (97%) of the responding libraries reported that their library provides mobile access to the library’s catalog. Catalog access is by far the most common app functionality, followed by a library event calendar (68%), ebook and audiobook checkout (60%), and mobile library card/digital barcode (60%). Respondents also clarified the functionalities that they want their apps to offer, including fine payment (69%), library event calendars (62%), and remote sign-up for events or library cards (51%).

Libraries reported that about 1 in 10 (12%) library users have actually downloaded the library’s app to their smartphone or tablet. About 2 in 5 (38%) acknowledged that their app appeals to certain patrons, including young adults, students, and “everyone but seniors.” These audiences could influence how libraries market their apps. Most respondents said that their apps were advertised via the library website (64%) and on social media (30%). Less off-line marketing took place, but some respondents advertised the app using posters (19%), newsletters (12%), and bookmarks (6%).

For more survey results, check out the full report here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

SHLB Coalition report estimates that it would cost $13-$19 billion to connect all community anchor institutions to high-speed broadband internet

Image credit: Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition

The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition recently released a report prepared by CTC Technology & Energy estimating how much it would cost to expand high-speed, fiber optic broadband internet to community anchor institutions – schools, libraries, hospitals, health care clinics, community colleges, and other public institutions that do not currently have direct fiber connections.

SHLB estimates that 34 million people living in the United States do not have access to broadband internet. However, nearly all (95%) Americans live in the same zip code area as a community anchor institution (Anchor). The authors argue that using Anchors as hubs to connect their surrounding communities to high-quality internet could be a cost-effective strategy to solve the digital divide, especially in rural areas.

The report provides estimates of the percentage of Anchors that are not yet connected to high-speed broadband connections. In dense metro areas, more than 4 in 5 (85%) Anchors are already connected. This is compared to only about 3 in 10 (30%) Anchors in the rural West and 2 in 5 (40%) in the Plains that are connected to high-speed broadband.

Based on the models used by the authors, the total cost to connect all the unconnected Anchors in the continental United States and Hawaii would be between $13 billion and $19 billion over the next 5-7 years. The cost per Anchor varies based on the regional and environmental difficulty of connecting the fiber network. For example, connecting an Anchor in a dense metro area would cost about $34,000 while an Anchor in a rural desert area would cost about $151,000 because the builders would not be able to take advantage of existing infrastructure. While these costs seem steep, the price for connecting anchors could drop by as much as half if a major, national effort is undertaken in cooperation with regional authorities and broadband providers.

For more information, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

ALA report finds that the number of rural public libraries offering internet services increases to 85%

The American Libraries Association (ALA) recently published a report exploring the ways that rural public libraries meet the needs of their communities, especially by providing digital literacy training and free access to the internet. This report used data collected by the Public Libraries Survey and the Digital Inclusion Survey.

Rural libraries tend to fall into a role of internet provider for rural communities since affordable, high-capacity home broadband internet can be difficult to obtain outside of more populous areas. More than 4 in 5 (85%) rural libraries surveyed reported subscribing to internet download speeds of at least 1.5 Megabits per second (Mbps), increased from more than half (57%) that reported the same in 2010.  The median connection speed across rural libraries is 10 Mbps, which is slow by today’s standards – the Federal Communications Commission recommends connection speeds of 100 Mbps for all libraries serving 50,000 people or less.

Rural libraries have kept pace with their urban and suburban counterparts in helping their patrons breach the digital divide. Nearly all libraries surveyed offer public WiFi to their patrons, allowing for use of personal devices while in the library. More than 4 in 5 (84%) rural libraries offer basic computer training, which is the same rate as urban/suburban libraries (87%).  Libraries across the board also offer training in basic office productivity software, like Microsoft Office, at a similar rate (81% for rural libraries, and 84% for all libraries). A larger gap emerged when librarians were asked about specialized training for social media tools and new technologies, which are more frequently offered at urban and suburban libraries.

For more information about the role that rural libraries play in their communities, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Freedman Consulting study finds strong bipartisan support for net neutrality rules

Image credit: Freedman Center

A recent study conducted by Freedman Consulting found that Americans across the political spectrum support net neutrality. The study also found a bipartisan belief that access to the internet is essential and that the government should play a role in expanding internet access.

About three-quarters (77%) of the survey respondents indicated that they believe the Federal Communication Commission’s existing Open Internet rules should be kept in place. Unlike many political issues, this issue received support from all major political parties – three-quarters of both Republicans (73%) and Independents (76%), and 4 in 5 Democrats (80%) noted their support for net neutrality rules.

An underlying reason for this broad support of net neutrality rules is likely because of the understanding that internet access has become necessary for both economic success and free expression. When given the statement, “internet access is essential and everyone needs it in the 21st century economy,” three-quarters (75%) of the survey respondents agreed. The study also found that more than 4 in 5 (83%) respondents viewed internet access as on-par with other essential infrastructure, like roads and bridges, and more than two-thirds (70%) agree  that the government should provide funding to help rural and low-income Americans access the internet.

While net neutrality can seem like an issue best left to legislators and tech giants, libraries have a lot to lose if ISPs no longer have to abide by net neutrality regulations. On a practical level, libraries will likely have to choose between paying more for usable internet access or trying to function using cheaper, slower connection speeds. From an ethical standpoint, libraries are encouraged to advocate for intellectual freedom, which is a right that would be undermined if internet access is blocked or throttled. However, this report suggests that library patrons support regulations that will allow libraries to continue providing access to information.

For information about how Americans view net neutrality, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Pew survey finds that the number of seniors who own smartphones has doubled since 2013

The Pew Research Center recently published the results of a survey studying technology use among adults ages 65 and older in the United States. They found that while technology adoption is slower among senior citizens, the rate of technology use among seniors is growing.

The percentage of seniors using technology has increased dramatically in the past few years. Two-thirds (67%) of the seniors that were surveyed use the internet, and half (51%) report that they can access broadband internet in their homes. About 2 in 5 (42%) seniors reported that they own smartphones, up from about 1 in 5 (18%) just four years ago in 2013. The number of seniors that own tablets has also doubled since 2013, up to about one-third (32%). Social media use among seniors has increased as well, with about a third (34%) of seniors reporting that they use social networking sites, up from about a quarter (27%) in 2013.

Despite these gains, technology adoption among seniors remains lower than among those ages 18 to 64. This may be due to a lack of confidence when it comes to using new technologies – only about a quarter (26%) of those ages 65 and older report feeling confident when using smartphones, computers, or other electronic devices, while roughly a third (34%) describe themselves as having little to no confidence with these devices. Senior citizens are also more likely to need help setting up new devices or need someone to show them how to use it, with about three-quarters (73%) of seniors reporting that they often need assistance.

This report reveals that there is clearly still a need for the technology assistance and classes that many libraries already offer to seniors, and perhaps even more of an opportunity for librarians to step in and help seniors become digitally connected. For more information about demographics and attitudes towards technology use by seniors, the full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

SLJ Technology Survey finds that technology spending has increased by 75% in schools

The School Library Journal recently published the results of their 2017 Technology Survey and found that school librarians are experiencing increased spending on digital tools for their libraries, allowing school librarians to become technology leaders within their school districts.

The survey found that the average amount spent on technology per school has increased by 75% in the past two years, from an average of $3,633 during the 2014/2015 school year to $6,257 in 2016/2017. School librarians are primarily responsible for tech usage in the library itself, but about half (45%) of the school librarians responding to the survey noted that they also collaborate with teachers to present tech-integrated lessons. More than a quarter (27%) of respondents have created even deeper partnerships with teachers to co-teach technology-rich lessons. Four in ten (41%) school librarians reported leading professional development activities using technologies in the library.

Survey respondents felt that their colleagues were supportive of librarians taking a leadership role in purchasing and implementing technology in their school. They reported that the majority of administrators (60%), teachers (68%), and students (70%) view school librarians as technology leaders. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents noted that they also feel supported by their school or district’s technology coordinator.  About a third (32%) of survey respondents said that being knowledgeable about the technology used in their schools provided them with added job security.

For more information about how school librarians are incorporating technology into their libraries, you can find the full report here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Pew finds that only 1 in 5 Americans feel the effects of “information overload”

Image credit: Pew Research

Image credit: Pew Research

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that the majority of American adults do not feel overwhelmed by information, contradicting a long-held anxiety about the consequences of “information overload.”

Over three-quarters (77%) of respondents like having so much information easily available to them, compared to the 1 in 5 (20%) who feel overwhelmed by information (down from 27% who reported feeling overwhelmed in 2006). Two-thirds (67%) of respondents were happy about having more information at their disposal, saying that it helps to simplify their lives.

In general, respondents that were considered to be “gadget rich” (having a combination of broadband home internet, a smartphone, and a tablet computer to access information) were less overwhelmed by the amount of information present. More than 4 in 5 (84%) “gadget-rich” respondents like having so much information available, while only just over half of “gadget-poor” respondents said the same. “Gadget-poor” respondents were also more likely to say that the amount of information available makes their lives more complex, that they have difficulty finding the information they need, and are not confident using the internet as an informational tool.

There is no sign that the flow of information will slow down anytime soon. Librarians have an opportunity to help their patrons feel comfortable interacting with information, using information tools, and identifying false information online. As the survey results indicate, providing patrons with access to more information gadgets can be helpful for those who may not be able to afford them, as can teaching information literacy classes to increase their patrons’ ability to find the information they need.

The full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

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