It’s hard to believe when we think about our connected world, but there are still one in five Americans who do not use the Internet. This is according to the latest Pew Internet study, which surveyed 2,260 adults age 18 and older about their Internet use.
With the focus on improving broadband availability, especially in rural areas, you might be thinking that these unfortunate people must not have the Internet where they are. But, those who want it will usually make a way, even if that means struggling with an infuriatingly slow dial-up connection or shelling out extra bucks for satellite. Just ask CNET contributor Eric Mack.
Nope. Sorry, Internet… a lot of these folks are just not that into you. Almost half of those surveyed who don’t go online say they don’t think the Internet is relevant to them, and only one in ten said they were interested in using it in the future. Most have never used the Internet before, so we can probably figure that they don’t know what they’re missing, but they also don’t seem to care.
Of course, there are factors such as availability and affordability, but this latest data lines up with previous research that shows those are not the only hurdles in getting all Americans on-line. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. In this case you may not be able to make him surf, either.
One big factor in Internet adoption, as you might imagine, is age. Seniors make up a higher percentage of those who aren’t connected. The latest PEW report shows that 94% of those 18 – 29 use the Internet (wouldn’t it be interesting to know why those 6% are holdouts) compared to 41% of those 65 and older. I see this in my own life. My dad has not shown much interest in the Internet. My mom was the expert at their house. She couldn’t tell you how to attach a photo, but she played bridge and paid her bills on-line, ordered Kindle books, and loved to send and receive email. She was in the hospital for a few weeks and made my dad buy a laptop so she wouldn’t be without the Internet. Sadly, she passed away last year. My dad at this point wants no part of computers or the Internet. They’re totally foreign to him.
Education and Income also play a factor, with only 22% of those who don’t have a High School diploma using the Internet, and 41% of those who earn less than $30,000 a year.
Clearly, we’ve made a lot of progress in Internet availability and adoption over the last ten years, including broadband. 65% of those in the Pew survey have Internet at home, with 62% of those being a broadband connection. This compares to 47% in 2001, with only 6% having broadband. Yes, we still have a little ways to go in making sure we have access to affordable broadband for all Americans, but even if we get to that point, we’ll still have some who won’t want to surf.
What about you? Do you know anyone who doesn’t use the Internet? What’s their reason?