One in Five U.S. Adults Does Not Use the Internet: Pew

 
 
By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2012-04-15 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Among adults who do not use the Internet, almost half said the main reason they don’t go online is because they don’t think the Internet is relevant to them.

Where€™s the surf? One in five American adults does not use the Internet, according to the latest report from the Pew Internet Project. Senior citizens, those who prefer to take the research organization's interviews in Spanish rather than English, adults with less than a high school education and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely adults to have Internet access, the survey found.

Among adults who do not use the Internet, almost half have said that the main reason they don€™t go online is because they don€™t think the Internet is relevant to them. Most have never used the Internet before, and don€™t have anyone in their household who does.

About one in five say that they do know enough about technology to start using the Internet on their own, and only one in 10 said that they were interested in using the Internet or email in the future.

In February 2001, when about half of adults were online, only 4 percent of American households had broadband access; as of August 2011, about 6 in ten American adults (62 percent) have a high-speed broadband connection at home, the report found. Men are more likely than women to have home broadband, and whites are more likely than minorities.

€œHaving broadband strongly affects how one uses the Internet, especially as multimedia elements such as video become more and more popular,€ the report noted. €œEven back in 2002, we found that dial-up users take part in an average of three online activities per day, while broadband users take part in seven.€

One of the newer online activities the Pew study found that as of 2011, social networking sites were used by 65 percent of all Internet users, which is equal to half of all American adults. Among Internet users, there was a very strong correlation in use with age, as some 87 percent of Internet users under 30 use these sites, compared with less than a third (29 percent) of those 65 and older.

However, though their overall numbers are still relatively low, older adults have represented one of the fastest-growing segments of the online social networking population. The report said growth may be driven by several factors, some of which include the ability to reconnect with people from the past, find supporting communities to deal with a chronic disease and connect with younger generations.

The survey also found that currently 88 percent of American adults have a cell phone, 57 percent have a laptop, 19 percent own an ebook reader, and 19 percent have a tablet computer. About six in 10 adults (63 percent) go online wirelessly with one of those devices.

Gadget ownership is generally correlated with age, education and household income, although some devices€”notably ebook readers and tablets€”are as popular or even more popular with adults in their 30s and 40s than young adults ages 18-29.

The rise of mobile devices is changing the story. Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic Internet access are using wireless connections to go online.

Among smartphone owners, young adults, minorities, those with no college experience and those with lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their main source of Internet access. Even beyond smartphones, both African Americans and English-speaking Latinos are as likely as Whites to own any sort of mobile phone and are more likely to use their phones for a wider range of activities.

The 27 percent of adults living with disabilities in the U.S. today are significantly less likely than adults without a disability to go online (54 percent vs. 81 percent). Furthermore, 2 percent of adults have a disability or illness that makes it more difficult or impossible for them to use the Internet at all.

Though overall Internet adoption rates have leveled off, adults who are already online are doing more. And even for many of the €œcore€ Internet activities Pew studied, significant differences in use remain, generally related to age, household income and educational attainment.

In 1995, only about one in 10 adults in the U.S. were going online. As of August 2011, the U.S. Internet population includes 78 percent of adults (and 95 percent of teenagers). Certain aspects of the current Internet population still strongly resemble the state of Internet adoption in 2000, when one of Pew Internet€™s first reports found that minorities, adults living in households with lower incomes and seniors were less likely than others to be online.

€œThose who do not use the Internet often do not feel any need to try it, some are wary of the technology and others are unhappy about what they hear about the online world,€ the report concluded.

 


 
 
 
 
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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