Our iPads and iPhones have quickly become an indispensable part of our lives. In fact, according to a new Pew Study, 19 percent of people in the United States own some sort of tablet, which is a significant chunk of the population.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are still quite a few Americans who go without Internet access. 22 percent of citizens or 1 in 5 people in the United States do not use the Internet, and this percentage has remained steady since 2009.
Why are so many Americans without Internet access? While poverty or low income levels are definitely a factor, those two situations only account for 10 percent of people who don’t use the Internet. The larger share of that number are people who are just not interested in using the Internet. 31 percent of this group did not see the benefit of the Internet, or believe that they could learn how to use it, and a large share were seniors who hadn’t grown up with the Internet or families who simply didn’t use it.
As for those who do access the Internet, 62 percent use cable, DSL, or a similar connection to get online, rather than dial up. Three percent of people with dial up access stated that they were waiting for prices to drop or were unable to get access in a rural location.
Internet usage has grown rapidly since 2006, as has the adoption of both cell phones and tablets. In 2006, just 73 percent of people owned a cell phone, but in February of 2012, that number had climbed to 88 percent. Tablets weren’t widely used until 2010, when approximately three percent of the population adopted the iPad and other tablet devices, a number that’s ramped up to 19 percent (equaling e-book reader usage) in 2012.
Unsurprisingly, people are connecting to the Internet more and more from mobile devices rather than desktop computers, which is having an effect on closing the digital divide between those who are able to access the Internet and those who are not.
“Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic Internet access are using wireless connections to go online,” notes the study. “Among smartphone owners, young adults, minorities, those with no college experience, and those with lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their main source of internet access.”