A new Pew study addresses this phenomenon


One in five adults in the US doesn’t use the internet. (I assume this means with any frequency. It would be almost impossible to never use the internet today.) Of those individuals, roughly half of them don’t bother going online because they believe that the internet doesn’t have anything relevant to offer them. They get their information through the TV or newspaper, they make phone calls to keep up with friends and family, they shop in local stores, and they presumably do research only in books.

Other reasons to not use the internet include cost – computers are too expensive – or difficulty.

As you may have guessed, most of these people are older. Almost 60% of US seniors don’t go online. Likewise, about 60% of adults who did not complete high school don’t use the internet. Non-internet users also tend to have lower incomes. Interestingly, ethnicity doesn’t have much to do with it. I say interestingly, because we often see race and socio-economic discussed in studies as being extremely highly correlated. Even more interesting, growth in high-speed/broadband internet adoption is significantly higher among African Americans. They are more likely to be switching to broadband than other groups at this time, though other groups may have a higher percentage who already have broadband.

Mobile phones are making an impact on this number as well. With the internet in a $50 smart phone in yoru pocket, the barriers to internet access dwindle.

My grandfather, until recently, had dial-up. While he did use the internet, it was generally only for checking email or stocks, and not frequently. Now, he has a smart phone and accesses and browses the web daily. Perhaps the most shocking part of this study – for me – was that a good portion of the non-internet-using adult population in the US has never been online. This might explain why they believe it is irrelevant to them. They literally don’t know what they are missing in terms of resources offered.

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