An stunning 15 per cent of Americans do not use the internet according to a new study by Pew Research that revealed close to 47 million U.S. citizens simply don’t go online. Age, internet costs and regional demographics are chiefly to blame.
The number of people not on the internet has remained steady since 2013. According to Pew, "the size of this group (of non-Internet users) has changed little over the past three years, despite recent government and social service programs to encourage Internet adoption."
So who exactly are they? The elderly, accustomed to life without the internet, make up a large number. The research revealed that 40 per cent of people aged 65 and older do not go online. This compares with just 3 per cent of 18-29 year old millennials, who use the connection technology in virtually all aspects of their life.
While 40 per cent may seem large, Pew found that the figure has actually gone down, with more and more seniors getting connected. In 2000, 86 per cent of Americans aged above 65 were not online.
The cost of internet access has been blamed as the prime reason for the poor uptake of broadband connectivity. The research revealed that low income people were less likely to use internet than the more affluent. One out of every four people earning less than $30,000 a year was unconnected. The proportion was eight times less than that of the wealthier demographic.
Generally, the cost of internet connection has gone down. Internet enabled technology costs have declined, but not enough for everyone. Reuters reports that consumers pay an average of $50 monthly for broadband, which is $10 more than what was paid 10 years ago.
Other factors were found to play a role in determining online access. An example is the rural-metropolitan demographic. 24 per cent of rural individuals did not have access to the web while only 13 per cent of the urban folk were offline.
Whites and Asian Americans were the most likely to use the internet while only one in five African Americans and only 18 per cent of Hispanics went online.
In general terms, the number of Americans actively using the internet has increased. In 2000, only half of the U.S. citizens used the internet. Today the figure is way up at 85 per cent.
Pew researchers said, "Despite some groups having persistently lower rates of Internet adoption, the vast majority of Americans are online.”
The study was conducted by polling 5,005 adults in 2015. The margin of error has been placed at 1.6 percentage points.
An increasing uptake of connectivity by Americans shows just how far digital connection has come. Only time will tell whether the remaining 15 per cent will be roped into the fold, as politicians and major internet companies steadily push to connect 100 per cent of the population.