U.S. Home Internet Adoption Slowing Down

A new study from Parks Associates, The National Technology Scan (2005) finds that some 36 percent of American homes were not online in 2005: expanded out into real numbers, that’s roughly 39 million U.S. households which have no Internet access at all. Among households without Internet access, only 2 percent reported they intended to sign up for some form of Internet service by the end of the year.

The study surveyed 1,000 U.S. households, and speculates its results may indicate the U.S. is reaching a zenith in terms of Internet penetration in homes: for the most part, those who want Internet access already have it. “We are clearly facing a problem of demand, not supply,” said John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates. “Computers and Internet service have never been cheaper, yet many households still show little enthusiasm for the technology.”

What about those households? Of those, 29 percent reported they do not own a computer and 5 percent would not subscribe to Internet service “at any cost.”

The study asked respondents why they were not interested in home Internet service: 31 percent said they have sufficient Internet access through their workplace, 18 percent indicated they simply aren’t interested in the Internet, 8 percent weren’t sure how to use the Internet, and 4 percent said computers were just too expensive. However, a whopping 39 percent cited some “other reason” for not having home Internet access, which Barrett indicated signified “none of the above” in the survey. From a methodology standpoint, this may indicate the study didn’t adequately target reasons for not having Internet access in the home: for instance, respondents may have been concerned about monitoring or controlling childrens’ Internet use, or simply be unable or unwilling to upgrade and maintain a computer for safe online use.

From its results, Parks Associates anticipates 2006 will show only 1 percent growth in the number of households with Internet access, increasing from 63 to 64 percent overall, indicating the so-called “digital divide” keeping the economically disadvantaged offline isn’t going to change much in the next year.