So just WHO ARE the 15 per cent of Americans still not online?
Hint: Many of them look like this old fogey
Analysis According to the most recent survey of online usage by Americans, 15 per cent of adults are still not online.
What is just as interesting is the fact that this 15 per cent appear to be stubbornly refusing to get online despite numerous efforts by the US government and others to get broadband to both rural and low-income areas.
Despite a massive decline in those not online since 2000, the past three years have seen no change: 15 per cent of US adults – representing some 35 million people – just do not use the internet.
Which of course leads to the question: who are they? (Follow-up: are you able to avoid Kim Kardashian if you stay offline?)
The folks behind the survey – Pew Research Center – had the same question and very helpfully produced a blog post in an effort to answer it.
It turns out that they are pretty much who you would imagine they are: old poor people with lower education living in rural areas.
Around four out of every ten adults aged 65 and older don't use the internet: a rate 13 times higher than the 18–29 age group where only three per cent of them are not online.
If you never graduated from high school, you are more than eight times more likely not to have an internet connection. An incredible 33 per cent of people without a high school diploma are not online, compared with four per cent that have a university degree. As people's level of education increases, so does their likelihood of having the internet, and just going to college makes you massively more likely to have a net connection.
A third, related factor: income. A quarter of people earning under $30,000 a year are not online. As income goes up, so does adoption. Earn above $75,000 and it goes down to that three per cent figure again.
And the last clear split: location. If you live in a rural area you are nearly twice as likely not to have an internet connection (24 per cent as opposed to 13 per cent for both urban and suburban areas).
Interestingly, there is no difference whether you are a man or a woman and even race doesn’t play that big a factor (although just five per cent of Asians are not online compared to 14–20 per cent when it comes to other races; helps to reinforce stereotypes).
There are a number of efforts starting this year that should reduce that 15 per cent headline figure, not least of which is the FCC's expansion of the Lifeline program to cover broadband. Under Lifeline, low-income households will be able to apply for a discount on their broadband.
And earlier this month, President Obama also outlined a raft of pilot programs across the US aimed at getting people – particularly kids – online.
Is it just money that is stopping people going online? No, but it does play a big part: 19 per cent of those who do not have the internet said it was the main reason why they don't have it. And it is these folks that the US government (and others) are keen to reach, since not having access to the internet puts them at a disadvantage for all sorts of other things, including finding jobs (it also increases the cost to the US government of getting them assistance).
So, as you probably suspected, that old poor person living in the heartland is most likely to be without the internet.
What may be interesting to discover is who exactly are the small number of rich, young people living in the cities that don't have access? ®