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Pew Research: 20% of Americans Aren't Online, Don't See Your Ads


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A bit of a surprise late Friday. The Pew Internet Project released its findings, that one in five U.S. adults simply is not on the Internet. So there is a “digital desert,” where senior citizens, Spanish speakers and low-income families reside, blind to search, social ads and streaming media.

As Pew describes the differences in Internet access exist among different demographic groups, especially when it comes to access to high-speed broadband at home. Among the main findings about the state of digital access:

  • Pew found that senior citizens, those who chose to be interviewed in Spanish rather than English, adults with less than a high school education, and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year were the least likely adults to have Internet access. Some 43% of adults who have not graduated from high school use the Internet, versus 71% of high school graduates and 94% of college graduates.
  • Of those adults who reported not using the Internet, almost half told Pew that the main reason is that they do not see the Internet as relevant to them. Most have never used it, nor has anyone in their households. About 20% say they know enough it to use it, but only 10% were interested in using the internet or email in the future.
  • The 27% of adults living with disability in the U.S. are significantly less likely than those without a disability to go online, at 54% versus 81%. Also true, 2% of adults have a disability or illness that makes it difficult or impossible for them to use the Internet.

Why don’t they use the Internet?
Thirty one percent of those surveyed claimed to be "just not interested" in the Internet. Rounding out the top five reasons for not using it:

  • 12% don’t have a computer
  • 10% calls it “too expensive”
  • 9% believes it is too difficult
  • 7% calls it a “waste of time” 

But of course, there's always television, and radio, and print.

The primary recent data for this report are from a Pew Internet Project tracking survey. The survey was fielded from July 25-August 26, 2011, and was administered by landline and cell phone, in English and Spanish, to 2,260 adults age 18 and older.

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