One Fifth Of American Adults Don’t Use The Internet

Monolith… according to a Pew study discussed in an insightful manner by Erick Schonfeld on TechCrunch. He is asking the fundamental question: Who are these folks who wouldn’t be reading this website, or any website for that matter, at all?

For me, since I happen to be able to remember a world without the internet, I remember first trying Mosaic in 1994 and thinking to myself this will change everything (hence my 2001 monolith image). Is it a matter of access or are there people who will never get online?

The Pew research center put out survey results on broadband adoption and Internet use in America. There was one data point that I found startling. According to the survey, 21 percent of American adults say they don’t use the Internet. One fifth of all Americans.

This isn’t just people who do not use broadband (which is 66 percent of American adults). It also includes people who don’t use dial-up (another 5 percent). These people don’t use the Internet at all. That is like not using the telephone.

The number is a bit inflated because a third (34 percent) of these self-described non-users live in a house with Internet access or have family members who use the Internet regularly. They just don’t think the information on the Internet is relevant to their lives (48 percent), are uncomfortable with computers (60 percent), and are not interested in getting online (90 percent).

Who are these people? I can understand why elderly Americans who didn’t grow up with computers not seeing the need for them. And that is certainly reflected in the broadband numbers. Only 31 percent of people 65 or older are on broadband, compared to 80 percent for those 18-to-29 years old. People without a high school education, with low incomes, or who live in rural areas also are less likely to use broadband. It is likely that these demographic groups also make up a disproportionate number of the non-users.

Read More: Erick Schonfeld on TechCrunch

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  • jdgj

    Yeah… old farts prefer actual reality over the virtual one.

    • DeepCough

      Those old farts prefer reality all right, especially when it’s on their old friend, which, too, uses a point-and-click interface: T.V.

  • APR

    My father, a brilliant scientist, did not get access until about two weeks before his death. For many years before this I told him what a great research tool it was, with all the university and similar sites, the access to sources for peer-reviewed article reprints, etc. Unfortunately, he heard too much about computer viruses, sources of false information and so on. He was very skeptical and, I think, finally succumbed to peer pressure (literally) and got a dial-up internet account. I told him “life is short, get broadband.” He died of a heart attack about two weeks later at the young age of 76. Sad.

    @ jdgj – you’re right. As I am becoming more of an “old fart” I am getting bored with the internet and becoming more interested in the real world again.

    • Vox Penii

      I know many (MANY) American adults who use internet extensively at work, but who don’t have internet at home. They’ve decided against internet in their personal lives, for any number of reasons — greater interest in other pastimes, wanting to maintain a firm separation between work and homelife, and so on.

      • Anonymous

        I find most, if not all, of these so-called “news items” from Pew to be highly questionable in nature.

        They routinely end up as some kind of mindless fodder, promoted by the mindless ones, suggesting the public is mindless, yet the only thing mindless here are these so-called “news items” of highly questionable veracity.

        Pew – exactly what are they? Established by the trusts from the offspring of the founder of Sun Oil Company. You may be familiar with their history if you happen to be aware of the history of transporation — and conspiracy — in America.

        Sun Oil, together with Firestone and General Motors (GM) conspired back in the 20th century, I think the timeframe was around the ’40s, ’50s & early ’60s, to eradicate the trolley car systems in various American cities, so that those cities would purchase buses from GM — which had tires from Firestone and would use gas from Sunoco or Sun Oil. This was brought to the public’s attention in the 1975 House Select Committee investigation, when retired senior executives, under oath (they actually put them under oath back in the day), testified to these facts.

        Really, does any thinking person believe the crap from any Pew organization?

  • Haystack

    I’m in my early 30’s and just recently got a cellphone. I simply didn’t use the phone enough to justify the extra money, but some people looked at me funny for it.

    Internet has become a necessity for most people, but not everyone, and I can understand why some might rationally choose not to adopt a new technology. When the washing machine was invented it makes people’s lives a lot easier at first, but after a while it became expected that you washed you clothes much more often. The dark side of the Internet is the way it distracts you, and splinters your identity into your real self and an online counterpart. It has obvious benefits as well, but I can appreciate that other people in different situations might be happier to go on living exclusively in the real world.

    • Vox Penii

      Schonfeld’s article contains numerous logical fallacies.

      The “spotlight fallacy,” for example, assumes that all members of a group (e.g. “American adults”) share the traits or characteristics of a sub-set of that group who receives a lot of attention (e.g., a writer for “TechChrunch” assuming that all American adults are as interested in, and devoted to technology as he is).

      Put differently, it’s like being a hammer and seeing every problem as a nail.

  • malatesting123

    Who doesnt use the internet? People who CANT FUCKING AFFORD IT or the GODDAMNED COMPUTER. Fuck shit fuckers. Wow, you mean there are actually poor people in this country? They dont have the internet?
    Fuck you.
    Class War!

  • http://lesjohns.wordpress.com Les Johns

    Am a 73 y.oldie, three years with pc. two with internet and a site for three months The only shysters I’ve come across have computer shops. The most malevolent cunts being Yahoo/Windows who implant bugs if you innocently offend them, and incapacitate the printer if I uninstall their unwanted crap and are slowly but surely withdrawing WordPress functions . I don’t have reply facility, ’cause I well know I’m an uneducated philistine with a questionable lifestyle such as refusing to join the nose-picking majority. Love, http://lesjohns,wordpress.com

  • http://twitter.com/JoJoTheModern JoJo

    48 percent of those who don’t use the Internet “just don’t think the information on the Internet is relevant to their lives”?

    I’ll bet you two to one that a goodly number of those people are illiterate. Not an insult. There are far too many Americans who for one reason or another can’t read. They will frequently find ways around activities that require reading skills, including claiming that they *just don’t need* this thing they can’t read.

    It’s sad and it’s a very real issue. Illiterate people are being left behind as the world moves towards more and more reading and writing online.

    If you click on the survey findings themselves, you’ll see that the survey was performed via telephone interviews. Another survey that required reading skills would very likely yield a higher percentage of Internet users.

  • http://twitter.com/JoJoTheModern JoJoTheModern

    48 percent of those who don’t use the Internet “just don’t think the information on the Internet is relevant to their lives”?

    I’ll bet you two to one that a goodly number of those people are illiterate. Not an insult. There are far too many Americans who for one reason or another can’t read. They will frequently find ways around activities that require reading skills, including claiming that they *just don’t need* this thing they can’t read.

    It’s sad and it’s a very real issue. Illiterate people are being left behind as the world moves towards more and more reading and writing online.

    If you click on the survey findings themselves, you’ll see that the survey was performed via telephone interviews. Another survey that required reading skills would very likely yield a higher percentage of Internet users.

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