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Pew: Down goes America's faith in the internet as a force for good

But most people still say it's a good thing.

Pew Research Center

If you've been feeling like the internet might not be such a great place lately, you're not alone. 

According to a Pew Research Center survey published on Monday, the majority of US adults surveyed in January said the internet is mostly a good thing for them personally and for society as a whole. But the number has declined since the Center started asking the questions in early 2014. 

An overwhelming majority of US adults still said the internet is good for them, dropping from 90 percent in 2014 to 88 percent in 2018. When asked if it has been mostly good for society, however, the percentage dropped from 76 to 70. The greatest decline was among older Americans, who slid from 78 to 64 percent between 2014 to 2018.   

The decrease is balanced by the number of adults who said the internet is a mix of good and bad for society, growing from 8 percent in 2014 to 14 percent in 2018. 

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Faster and easier access to information and the ability to keep in touch with friends and family were most frequently cited as reasons the internet is a good thing. There was no standout single issue for those who said the internet is bad for society. Reasons were widely spread, including fake news and disinformation; that it encourages illegal activity; and it encourages people to spend too much time on devices

Speaking of devices, the survey also found that one in five Americans use only their phone to access the internet at home instead of using a traditional broadband service. This is an increase of 7 percent from 2015, when 13 percent of Americans were smartphone-only users.