Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Two-thirds of American adults go online and one-third do not

Washington, October 5, 2005 – Sixty-eight percent of American adults, or about 137 million people, use the internet, up from 63% one year ago. Thirty-two percent of American adults, or about 65 million people, do not go online, and it is not always by choice. Certain groups continue to lag in their internet adoption. For example:

  • 26% of Americans age 65 and older go online, compared with 67% of those age 50-64, 80% of those age 30-49, and 84% of those age 18-29.
  • 57% of African-Americans go online, compared with 70% of whites.
  • 29% of those who have not graduated from high school have access, compared with 61% of high school graduates and 89% of college graduates.
  • 60% of American adults who do not have a child living at home go online, compared with 83% of parents of minor children. Those who are currently offline have had varying levels of exposure to the online world. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s May-June 2005 survey, one in five American adults (22%) say they have never used the internet or email and do not live in an internet-connected household. These truly disconnected adults occupy essentially the same percentage of the population as in 2002, when 23% of American adults said they have never used the internet and do not live with anyone who has access. “Americans who are over the age of 65 or who have less education are the most likely to be completely disconnected from the internet,” said Susannah Fox, associate director of the Pew Internet Project. “If they needed to get information from a Web site or other online source, they probably could not easily do so.” Fifty-three percent of internet users now have a high-speed connection at home, up from 21% of internet users in 2002. Not surprisingly, the groups who were initially most likely to lag in adopting the internet now lag in access speeds. Those with less education, those with lower household incomes, and Americans age 65 and older are less likely to have embraced broadband than those who are younger and have higher socio-economic status. Previously, Pew Internet & American Life Project surveys showed that internet experience – the number of years a person had been online – was a major predictor of both the frequency of internet use and the activities pursued online. Now that a majority of the internet’s heaviest users have upgraded from dial-up to high-speed access at home, broadband access is becoming a stronger predictor of online behavior than a user’s level of experience. “There are three degrees of internet access – cold, tepid, and hot,” said Fox. “There is a group of Americans for whom the internet remains a mystery. They live lives far removed from the online world. Then there is the larger group of dial-up and intermittent users who are connected, but are not necessarily daily users. Finally, there is the broadband elite who are likely to go online every day and be devoted to their online pursuits.” The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit initiative of the Pew Research Center and is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to examine the social impact of the internet. It does not advocate policy outcomes.
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