As outlined in a new study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life project, about one out of every five Americans simply don’t utilize the Internet at all. Within this group of people, approximately half attributed this fact to the lack of anything useful on the Internet. The most common groups to be without Internet access include households earning less than $30,000 per year, adults that haven’t obtained a high school diploma, senior citizens over the age of 65 and Hispanic adults. Women were also slightly less likely to use the Internet when compared to men.
The most common reason for not having Internet access was “just not interested.” Other reasons included lacking access to a computer, cost of access, difficulty getting it to work properly, the lack of time required to learn the process, blaming age, problems with physically being able to use a computer or concern about computer viruses and spam emails. Of the group that doesn’t have Internet access, only a tenth were interested in learning how to get online in order to use the Internet on a daily basis.
Another roadblock to Internet access is the lack of a broadband connection. While broadband use has exploded from four percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2011, that still leaves approximately four out of ten American adults that don’t have a high-speed Internet connection at home. Dial-up access has decreased from 41 percent in 2001 to 3 percent in 2011. The Pew Research Center conducted a related study during 2009 that found 35 percent of dial-up users were waiting on the price to fall before upgraded to a fast, broadband connection. Other reasons for not switching yet included unfamiliarity with the benefits of broadband and the lack of availability in certain areas of the country.
However, people using the Internet has increased from 50 percent in June 2000 to nearly 80 percent in August 2011. Ninety-four percent of adults with a college degree utilize the Internet at home in addition to 97 percent of adults making more than $75,000 per year. Adults between the ages of 18 to 29 were also the mostly likely to use the Internet.
Regarding online activity, the most common Internet activities include using a search engine like Google or checking email. More than 70 percent of U.S. adults use the Internet for making purchases online and approximately 64 percent use the Internet for social networking. Online banking has also shot up in popularity over the last ten years and is most common with adults between the ages of 30 to 49.
Over the time between studies, the desktop computer is no longer the preferred gateway to reaching information on the Internet. Usage has shrunk from 68 percent in 2006 down to 55 percent in 2011. Conversely, laptop use has grown from 30 percent in 2006 to 57 percent in 2011. The cell phone has become increasingly popular as 88 percent of all U.S. adults above the age of 18 now own a cell phone. Alternatively, MP3 player growth has become stagnant due to the inclusion of music playback in most smartphones. Finally, e-reader and tablet growth have had a sharp increase in growth over the past few years with both categories reaching 19 percent in regards to U.S. ownership among adults.