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New Pew Report: One in Five Americans Don't Use The Internet

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, April 13 2012

Twenty percent of American adults don't use the Internet, according to a new survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Pew's survey, "Digital Differences," is a fresh look at Internet access, 12 years after the organization first started surveying Americans about the issue. In 2000, the majority of Americans didn't have access to the Internet, and "many non-users" felt that the Internet was a "dangerous thing," according to Pew.

Now, almost half of those who don't use the Internet say that they don't use it because they don't think it's relevant to them, and they don't want to use it. One in five of non-users say that it's related to the price of access and another one in five say that they don't know how to get on, or that they're physically unable to. Just over a third of those who don't use the Internet say "they're just not interested," according to data gathered last August.

"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 a year are the least likely adults to have Internet access," reports Pew.

The survey found that race and gender don't correlate with access, but age, education and income do. People who are 65 or older, don't have a high-school education, or have low incomes are less likely to access the Internet, Pew reports.

Pew also found that the ways that Americans access the Internet are far more varied than in 2000 because of the proliferation of gadgets: 88 percent of Americans have a cell phone, 57 percent have a laptop, 19 percent have e-book readers and tablet computers respectively, and six out of ten of all Americans use one of those devices to get online.

Meanwhile:

  • Pew also found that 62 percent of Americans now have high-speed Internet access in their home. Men are more likely than women to have home broadband, and whites are also more likely than minorities to have home broadband access. A third of those surveyed who said that they don't have broadband said that the "price must fall."
  • People with disabilities are less likely to be using the Internet. The survey found that 54 percent of adults living with a disability use the Internet, compared to 81 percent of those without a disability.
  • E-mail and search remain the most popular activities on the Internet (six in 10 adults both e-mail each other and search for things online on a typical day.) But social networking is also becoming part of everyday life -- 65 percent of all adult Internet users participate in social networking online, Pew reports.
  • Pew also finds that people who own "a wireless device," become more active in how they use the internet generally, and in connecting with others. "These mobile users go online not just to find information, but to share what they find and even create new content much more than they did before."
  • Almost half (45 percent) of adults in the United States own a smartphone, meaning that their phones run either Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Palm or Windows platforms. There was no meaningful difference in ownership of smartphones between whites, African Americans and Latinos.
  • While the most popular non-voice use of cell phones was texting and taking pictures for all three ethnic groups, Pew found that the ethnic categories of "Black, non-Hispanic," and "Hispanic" people are much more active on cell phones and use them more extensively to do everything from accessing the Internet, watching videos and accessing social networking sites to doing online banking.
    • The whole report can be downloaded here.

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