November 8, 2013

Who’s not online? 5 factors tied to the digital divide

Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, outlines five factors related to Internet non-use at Washington Post Live’s 2013 Bridging the Digital Divide forum. They are:

1. Age: If you’re an older American you’re much less likely to use the internet than a younger person: 44% of those over age 65 do not go online, versus 17% of those 50-64, 8% of those 30-49 and only 2% of those 18-29. Overall, adults ages 65 and older account for almost half (49%) of non-internet users by age group.

2. Income and educational attainment: If you have a college degree or live in a high income household, you’re much more likely to use the internet. Only 4% of college graduates do not use the internet compared with 41% of those without a high school degree. And only 4% of those with a household income of $75,000 or more don’t go online, versus 24% of those earning less than $30,000 per year.

3. Community type: If you live in a rural area (with limited broadband access) you’re less likely to use the internet than an urban or suburban resident: 20% of rural residents are offline, compared with 14% of both urban and suburban residents.

4. Disability: The disabled are consistently less likely to use the internet: 46% of adults with a disability do not use the internet, according to a 2011 report.

5. Spanish-speaking preference: Those who prefer to take Pew Research Center surveys in Spanish are less likely than English speakers to be internet users. A survey earlier this year found that 29% of those who opt for Spanish telephone interviews are not internet users, compared with 14% of all adults. Overall, 24% of Hispanics are offline versus 14% of whites and 15% of blacks.

When asked why they do not use the internet, about a third of offline adults say the internet just isn’t relevant to their lives; another third  cited “usability” issues such as their discomfort with computers and internet connections; a fifth cited price issues; and a smaller group cited lack of access.

Just 8% of offline adults say they would like to start using the internet or email in the future, while 92% say they are just not interested.

Read Pew Internet’s most recent report on non-internet users Who’s Not Online, and Why (Sept. 25, 2013)

Topics: Internet Activities

  1. is an Editorial Web Producer at the Pew Research Center.

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