May 30, 2013

Internet adoption becomes nearly universal among some groups, but others lag behind


Most Americans ages 18 and older use the internet at least occasionally.

New data from the latest survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project in the spring shows that 85% of Americans adults use the internet at least occasionally.  Five years ago, in an April 2008 survey, 73% of adults used the internet.  Ten years ago, in May 2003, 63% of adults used the internet.

Some groups have reached nearly universal adoption:

  • 98% of those ages 18-29 use the internet
  • 96% of those who are college graduates use the internet
  • 96% of those living in households earning $75,000 or more use the internet

At the same time, those ages 65 and older, Hispanics, those living in households earning less than $30,000, those without high school diplomas, and those living in rural areas are not as likely as others in the adult population to use the internet.


Some of the other findings in the spring survey about internet use:

  • A majority of those ages 65 and older (56%) use the internet. It has been about a year since senior citizens cracked the 50% threshold for internet adoption.
  • Mobile connectivity through smartphones and tablet computers only adds 2% of unique internet users to the overall population. At the same time, we have reported from previous surveys that a portion of mobile device users are “cell mostly” – that is, they do most of their internet browsing through a mobile device. We are doing more analysis of these new data to determine new levels of “cell mostly” activity and will report on them in the coming weeks. Last year, we reported that 31% of internet users are “cell internet users” (those who use their phones to go online) and 17% of all cell phone users are cell mostly. We also reported that 25% of teens are cell mostly.
  • Parents of minor children are significantly more likely than non-parents to be internet users (93% vs. 81%).

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Internet Activities

  1. Photo of Lee Rainie

    is director of internet and technology research at Pew Research Center.


  1. Penny N4 years ago

    I still find many people over 65 wearing still bragging they don’t do internet. Tho they don’t raise their hands so ecstatically any more. And most now recognize they are missing out on a lot of great things. I taught a ‘young at heart’ women to use the internet last year and now she’s using email…she’s now 86. BTW–I’m going on 70 myself.

    1. Lee Rainie4 years ago

      Thanks so much, Penny: Yes, we see that some who don’t use the internet are proudly proclaiming that as a lifestyle choice.

      But it’s more often the case that people say they don’t use the internet because they “don’t want to” or “don’t need to.” Sometimes that is a reflection of their discomfort with using computers; other times there are broader “technology literacy” issues; somtimes it’s about money and the expense of using the internet; and still other times it just means that people like the technology and media they already have (i.e. landline phones, printed books and newspapers).

      Still, it is the case that more than half of those age 65 and older use the internet and one of the things that prompted their adoption was that they saw their family and friends getting benefits out of their tech use — and having fun doing so.

  2. Alex Choi4 years ago

    I know Asians aren’t a huge minority … but do you have any data on that race?

    1. Andrea Caumont4 years ago

      Hi Alex, thanks for the question. Unfortunately, we are not able to report on Asian-Americans as a distinct group. You can read why here:…

    2. Lee Rainie4 years ago

      Hello Alex: The data aren’t quite as fresh as ours, but the Commerce Department does huge surveys about technology use from time to time and has very detailed material about Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and other groups. The latest government material about broadband adoption (not overall internet use) is here:

      And a table with more details than ours about different demographic groups and broadband use is on page 8.

      We are also doing a bigger-than-normal survey later this year and in early 2014 will have Asian-American figures about all kinds of internet and cell phone adoption. Hope that will be useful to you.