The Pew research center put out survey results today on broadband adoption and Internet use in America. There was one data point that I found startling. According to the survey, 21 percent of American adults say they don’t use the Internet. One fifth of all Americans.
This isn’t just people who do not use broadband (which is 66 percent of American adults). It also includes people who don’t use dial-up (another 5 percent). These people don’t use the Internet at all. That is like not using the telephone.
The number is a bit inflated because a third (34 percent) of these self-described non-users live in a house with Internet access or have family members who use the Internet regularly. They just don’t think the information on the Internet is relevant to their lives (48 percent), are uncomfortable with computers (60 percent), and are not interested in getting online (90 percent).
Who are these people? I can understand why elderly Americans who didn’t grow up with computers not seeing the need for them. And that is certainly reflected in the broadband numbers. Only 31 percent of people 65 or older are on broadband, compared to 80 percent for those 18-to-29 years old. People without a high school education, with low incomes, or who live in rural areas also are less likely to use broadband. It is likely that these demographic groups also make up a disproportionate number of the non-users.
At least race is becoming less of a factor. One of the fastest growing groups of broadband use is among African Americans. More than half (56 percent) use broadband (compared to 67 percent of white users), up from 46 percent of African Americans last year. And most people (53 percent) don’t believe the government should get involved in making broadband more broadly available. They think the market is doing just fine on its own.
Well, except for those 21 percent of Americans who are apparently still communicating by telegram.