Pew: 20% of adults avoid Internet, smartphones closing digital divide

By on April 17, 2012, 3:30 PM

According to an annual Pew Research survey, about 1 out of 5 American adults don't use the Internet. Out of that 20 percent, most of those adults believe the Internet is irrelevant to their lives while merely 10 percent of this group admit to having any online interest. The study aims to learn more about the "digital divide" and how such disparities seemingly exist along demographic lines and sub-cultures.

Of the adults who don't use the Internet, senior citizens, respondents who submitted their surveys in Spanish, individuals who didn't finish high school or those with an annual income of less than $30,000 were the least likely to enjoy Internet access.

Pew found that the digital divide is closing amongst demographic groups which have traditionally trailed in the proliferation of online access. Although ownership of Internet-capable devices is still generally linked to income, age and education, African Americans and English-speaking Hispanics are just as likely as their whites counterparts to own a mobile phone. In fact, according to the survey, those groups are more likely to use their phones for a wider range of activities.

The overall Internet adoption rate has leveled off in recent years, but adult usage has continued to grow. Once again, income, age and education all seem to play a role in determining how adults generally use the Internet.

The survey claims that 27 percent of all adults live with a disability and while only 2 percent of adults admit to having an impairment which prevents them from accessing the web, 54 percent actually go online. For those without disabilities, that number is significantly higher with 80 percent of adults cruising the net.

The survey was fielded from July 25 to August 26 last year. It was administered to 2,260 adults, ages 18 and over the phone via both landline and cellular phones. Read more about Pew's methodology.




User Comments: 13

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ramonsterns said:

This survey is non-sense. Everyone knows there's no girls on the internet.

treetops treetops said:

Iv never had faith in the test 2k people to represent a entire country method.

gibbstar gibbstar said:

i did a research project on this in school fall quarter, getting pretty much the same results. it's always funny to me how the people who fear technology always fall into the old and/or uneducated groups in society. *laugh*

Guest said:

Take any basic statistics course and you will see why a small sample size is nearly as accurate as surveying the entire population.

Mindwraith said:

Iv never had faith in the test 2k people to represent a entire country method.

It's statistically sound. Asking ten times as many people would only increase the accuracy by 1%-3%

Dawn1113 said:

The surge in usage among adults is noteworthy -- a 31% increase in 11 years. That'd be an explosion of sorts from a sociological standpoint.

treetops treetops said:

It's statistically sound. Asking ten times as many people would only increase the accuracy by 1%-3%

All I know is the day before a presidential race people are polled and they are way off. But I have heard the same thing you 2 are saying however I still don't trust surveys and polls. Maybe its because I used to conduct surveys\polls via telephone. Perhaps what your surveying has a impact.

Science totally backs you up according to what iv heard on the news.

Guest said:

it's always funny to me how the people who fear technology always fall into the old and/or uneducated groups in society.

I'm not so sure that "fear of technology" scares people away from the internet. I would have to assume that the majority of the elderly and the "uneducated groups" simply don't have the same level of disposable income that the middle/upper classes have, and would rather spend their money on something other than a monthly cable/DSL bill.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Surveys can be created to produce the results you want, here's a very simple example.

Example 1 (standard question).

Q1: Do you allow your children access the internet?

Example 2 (lead in question)

Q1: Do you think porn is easly accessable on the internet?

Q2: Do you allow your children access the internet?

In the first example let's assume you just want a straight answer. In example two by asking a lead in question(s) you can steer or skew the results by framing the question, since now people will be thinking more about one aspect of the internet.

Guest said:

If I was old 65+ what better way to spend $30 bucks a month for all the porn i can handle and news plus keeping in tuch with fammly on face book. well it is there loss if they are scared of computers. I guss they can just sit around waiting to die

Guest said:

I'm not so sure that "fear of technology" scares people away from the internet. I would have to assume that the majority of the elderly and the "uneducated groups" simply don't have the same level of disposable income that the middle/upper classes have, and would rather spend their money on something other than a monthly cable/DSL bill.

internet is cheep can get it fot $25 per month. Id kill my self if i could not even afford basic internet when i get old.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

what better way to spend $30 bucks a month for...[ ]..keeping in tuch with fammly

Maybe $30/mo on adult literacy classes ?

According to an annual Pew Research survey, about [link] . Out of that 20 percent, most of those adults believe the Internet is irrelevant to their lives

The 20% seems only incrementally down on the previous year, so there are maybe factors in play here such as broadband availability/coverage and quality and availability of dial-up service where broadband is lacking.

If the U.S. is anything like New Zealand then there will be a percentage of the population involved directly in primary production (agriculture, forestry, fishing, farming etc.) in smaller communities where the internet -by and large- is of little interest in general and family and friends may not have migrated from a town/local county. If so, seeing a growing number of "statistics" such as this and this isn't likely to sway the 20%...only attrition (death), a move to a near complete service based economy and a reduction in rural population will achieve....full assimilation.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's funny for me to read this article as I have an uncle who has just yesterday made a statement that he doesn't want anything to do with the Internet. He has been there done that and now chooses to stay out of the shark infested waters. We all know the shark infested waters I speak of, as Mal-ware infested websites.

We that do know, should be making the Internet a safer place for those that don't know. Until we take pride in cleaning the crap from the Internet, no one has any grounds to point fingers at those who choose to stay off the Internet. Calling those who choose not to deal with the crap uneducated, is an insult to yourself.

Questions:

  1. Why are we that do know, not making the Internet a safer place?
  2. Why do we prefer to point a finger at those who don't know instead?
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