Study: 15 Percent of Americans Don't Use the Internet

Thursday, 26 Sep 2013 12:21 PM

By Andrea Billups

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While most Americans might argue that they couldn't live their lives without it, a full 15 percent of the nation's residents are shunning a digital lifestyle, eschewing the Internet and living life offline.

A new study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. also found that 9 percent say they only go online at work, turning away from the Internet when they are away from their employers, AFP reports.

Pew also found that of these technology outliers, described as "offline adults," 92 percent professed no interest in getting online or using email in the future, putting them at odds with a modern world that nearly requires it.

"A lot of people are surprised to discover that not everyone is online," said Kathryn Zickuhr, who authored the Pew study, titled "Who's Not Online and Why." The study, which surveyed 2,252 adults over a month's period starting last April, is part of the center's Pew Internet & American Life Project.

"Most offline adults either don't see the Internet as relevant to them, or feel that it would not be worth the effort. And though many have had some experiences with the Internet in the past, most non-Internet users say they are not interested in going online in the future."

Some of those so-called offliners, however, did acknowledge that they occasionally lean on friends with access to the Internet to help them. Forty-Four percent of respondents noted in the survey that they have asked someone to look up something for them or complete a task online.

Among some of the other revelations from the study: 34 percent of non-Internet users said the worldwide web just isn't relevant for their lives, they're not interested in it, or they just have no need for it; 32 percent, meanwhile, said they stay away from the Internet because they worry about hacking, spyware, or spam.

About 19 percent of non-users also cited the cost of computer ownership and Internet subscriptions as reasons for staying away, while 7 percent told Pew that the Internet access was not available where they live.

The study also charted the impressive growth of the nation's online world. In 1995, for example, only 14 percent of Americans went online. Today, that figure ranges from 75 percent to 85 percent.

Not surprisingly, the nation's older citizens were among those who don't spend time online. Forty-four percent of those 65 and older don't really use computers. By contrast, just 17 percent of respondents who are 50-to-64 years old said they don't go online, which indicates that most Baby Boomers have an intense interest in adapting to new technology.

The study also found that 87 percent of adults in the 18-to-29 age group are online.
Educational attainment and economic status also correlated with less use of the Internet. For example, about 41 percent of people who fail to complete high school are not Internet users, along with 24 percent of Hispanics, and people earning less than $30,000 per year, Pew said.

The study also confirmed that urban and suburban residents are more likely to embrace the Internet than their rural counterparts.

According to Internet World Stats, North America continues to lead the world in Internet penetration at 78.6 percent of the population, while Africa has the least penetration at 15.6 percent.

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