Today, we cannot imagine our lives without the Internet.
Using smartphones and computers daily, the use of the Internet has become an integral part of our lives and essential for our progress. There are so many things we can do on the Internet and use it for many different purposes.
Almost 4.57 billion people were active Internet users as of April 2020, encompassing 59 percent of the global population.
Source: Statista 2020
Before diving into the top uses of the Internet, let’s remind us what the Internet is.
What is the Internet and how does it work?
The Internet is a global network infrastructure of connected computers and other electronic devices communicating with each other. It allows digital information to travel around the world run by governments, companies and other organizations on the world wide web.
No one owns the Internet or controls who can connect to it and most people can access and view content using a web browser via the World Wide Web.
The connection or internet access is established by Internet Service providers via various devices in the form of a wi-fi signal, mobile internet, public hotspots, broadband, cable and similar types.
What are the most popular uses of the Internet?
While there is no doubt that Internet usage is exploding, have you ever stopped to wonder what the people are using it for?
And do they use it ethically and productively?
Here is a list of the most popular reasons people use the Internet today.
- Search information
- Communicate and collaboration
- File and data transfer
- Social networking
- Entertainment – relax, watch video, listen to music
- Business promotion
- Earn on the Internet
- Shopping (E-commerce)
- Online services
- Remote work
1. Search information
We search for information every day, whether that be a product, news story, video or similar thing. To do that, we use search engines like Google Chrome, Mozilla, Safari or search for information on websites surfing on the web.
The search is done by typing a query or question for which we seek specific information or answers.
Search engines through their active search algorithms, provide us with valuable and useful data, information and knowledge at any time, instantly upon our request.
People want to know what is happening around the world immediately. They want fast information and stay updated on a daily basis.
They don’t bother to wait for the morning newspaper or the news broadcast on their TV or radio. Therefore, people prefer news websites on the Internet and consume the top daily news there.
Most people prefer known, relevant and authoritative websites such as CNN, Huffington Post, BBC, New York Times, NBC and similar.
There are also news aggregators where there is top information even by topic like:
- Google News
3. Communicate and collaborate
The first significant and most popular use of the Internet is Email. Email is still the first thing that most people check after they have logged on to the Internet.
Through time, people shared information and data files via this channel but communication is the priority purpose. Email has enabled easy, fast and efficient communication between people and businesses.
Being a primary internet service for communication and collaboration, today, the email address also serves as a primary identification data for most account logins.
Besides the email, today, there are many other online tools and software apps for audio and video communication via an internet connection such as:
With the rise of smartphones, these apps and email are now even more accessible than ever.
4. File and data transfer
Probably the second major use of the Internet in the early days is file and data transfer. This is done by the FTP – File Transfer Protocol that enables secured exchange between two participants over the Internet.
This Internet use was essential because the email services restrict the size of a file that can be shared and cannot guarantee the security of sensitive and confidential data.
Today there are many other ways of file and data sharing like cloud services and peer-to-peer network distribution, also know as torrenting.
Torrenting is a widely popular file-sharing protocol (P2P technology), allowing vast numbers of users to connect and share content without having to rely on a single source for downloads.
On the other hand, there are also different modern ways for storing and transferring larger data files on the Internet offered by software tools like WeTransfer, Google Drive, Dropbox and others.
5. Social networking
Social networking helps in connecting the world in a more humane approach. One of the most desired new things to do on the Internet is to express yourself and make new friends via popular social networks.
Social media has become a worldwide sensation in the past few years.
The boom started with the launch of Facebook, where other similar platforms followed. Now they are used more frequently from people with various interests and age groups.
We are familiar with these platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and many others that occupy a large proportion of our daily time.
6. Entertainment – relax, watch video, listen to music
Today the Internet is the main source of entertainment. You can watch or listen to anything online by your choice and at any time you want.
Those things can be:
- TV Shows
The rise of online streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Twitch and many others have revolutionized the way we watch movies or TV shows and how we pick them.
On the other hand, digital music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube Music have made a serious impact on how we listen to today’s music.
In the end, are also social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit, where we see various types of photos, GIFs, memes and videos with entertaining content on a daily basis.
Even though online gaming is considered as entertainment, it deserves to be treated as a separate category since its astonishing growth is noticeable and impacts the young generation.
Online games can be played multiplayer or a single person mode via a console, computer or mobile app mostly free of cost.
Global Esports industry is growing at a rate of 30% year-over-year.
8. Business promotion
Major search engines, social media, and advertising services have made an affordable and easy way to promote your business online.
The process of internet marketing allows for better data collection as well as personalization, reaching a big chunk of the online’s population.
To do that, businesses should be really creative to stand out from the crowd and get to their potential customers.
9. Earn on the Internet
Earning a small amount of money with the use of the Internet has never been easier. There are many people for doing the same things that an Internet user does but get paid for that.
You just need a computer and an internet connection to start doing this. There are few good trustworthy websites where you can answer surveys, shop online, watch entertaining videos, search the web and similar great deals to earn money with no effort.
The only investment here is your time.
10. Shopping (E-commerce)
With the rise of the e-commerce industry, our habits of buying online stuff have evolved a lot.
In the beginning, many people didn’t have trust in the e-commerce website, but that has changed over time. Now we can order anything like clothing, fashion accessories, machines, books, technology stuff and lots of things that are available on the Internet.
There are many websites where you can buy products and place products like Amazon, eBay, Aliexpress, Etsy, and many other personal businesses that are creating their online shops every day.
The Internet plays a vital role in effectively shaping today’s education process.
It has the availability and the quality of learning for many students because they can study what they want and whenever they feel most productive. Here, with the help of e-learning, you can attend classes and take exams online at your home.
We are witnessing the rise of informal education where you can sharpen your skills online and get faster progress in a specific field.
12. Online services
To adapt to the digital transformation process, many businesses step into the game to bring their services online.
This has happened with online banking, telecommunications, governmental services, online booking, and more.
At the same time, it has reduced the need to visit them locally or go through intermediaries who offer these internet services in the name of the actual companies and give people more flexibility in saving their precious time.
Besides business blogs, there are individual blogs where people love to share information, overviews, case studies and their opinion.
Many influencers also use social networks to express themselves and share valuable content.
On the Internet there are a large number of forums and Q&A websites where people can ask specific types of questions or provide answers for others, participating in discussions.
Today it is very easy to create a blog with the free blogging platforms available on the Internet or become an influencer or authority in a specific niche that you people are experts in.
That is happening on websites like LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit and similar networks.
Online dating or internet dating has made a system for people to find and get to know potential connections over the Internet, usually to develop personal, romantic, or sexual relationships.
This is highly used by young generations, especially happening on social media networks.
While opinions are changing concerning online dating as a possible way to meet people, it has become the first step of the actual dating process, which results in a positive way for most people.
15. Remote work
The state of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to immediately adjust remote work from home (WFH) options for their employees.
Thanks to the Internet and many online tools, most of them succeeded in implementing this process and even planning to become completely remote permanently.
We are free to use the Internet and how we do that depends on our desires and goals.
The Internet can provide us with useful information which helps us to make decisions and conclusions, making our life more comfortable and simple in many ways.
Spending a lot of time on the Web, It is vital to use it in a positive and productive way, being careful and ethical when sharing and consuming a specific content.
The Internet is a huge revolution in information technology and it is up to us how we use it and utilize our time on the world wide web.