Sunday, April 15, 2012

20 percent still eschew the Internet, with half of those saying it's not relevant to them

It's like bouncing off a ceiling, and not a glass one, either. For years, the percentage of adult Americans using the Internet hasn't been able to crack 80 percent, staying in the range of 75 - 80 percent, and things didn't change in 2011, according to the latest Pew Internet & American Life Project poll.

Why would anyone eschew the Internet? Age, education, and money have a lot to do with it. The report says that:

"Senior citizens, those who prefer to take our 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."

Nearly half who have no Internet service say that the main reason they don't go online is because they don’t believe the internet has anything to offer them. That's an interesting response, as we know someone who once felt that way, but once that person logged on, the Internet became a daily habit.

Other reasons included no computer, expense, or difficulty in getting online (which could be related to lack of broadband in certain areas of the country, but also includes disabled adults who are significantly less likely to go online than adults without a disability (54 percent vs. 81 percent).

While overall Internet adoption rates seem stable, those using the Internet are doing far more on it. After all, surfing the Web and using the Internet no longer means going online with a computer, but includes smartphones and tablets, for many.

Pew's statistics: 88 percent of American adults have a cell phone, 57 percent have a laptop, 19 percent own an e-book reader, and 19 percent have a tablet. More than six in ten go online with one or more of those devices (63 percent).

The study notes that virtually every U.S. household with an annual income over $75,000 is online (97 percent) and 90 percent of those with an income between $50,000 and $75,000 are online. However, only 63 percent of adults with a household income under $30,000 annually have the Internet.

For different education levels: 94 percent of adults with post-graduate degrees are online, 88 percent of those with at least some college are online, but only 43 percent of those without high school diplomas are online.

On the positive side of things, the new study found that the Internet access gap between minorities and whites in the U.S. is slowly vanishing. The survey said,

"Ultimately, neither race nor gender are themselves part of the story of digital differences in its current form. Instead, age (being 65 or older), a lack of a high school education, and having a low household income (less than $20,000 per year) are the strongest negative predictors for internet use."

The study surveyed 2,260 adults age 18 and older by phone. Calls were made in both English and Spanish. The margin of error for the full sample is ±2 percentage points.

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