15 Percent of American Adults Don't Use the Internet. Who Are They?

The Internet now plays such a large role in daily life that it's difficult to imagine many people getting by without it.

The Internet now plays such a large role in daily life that it's difficult to imagine many people getting by without it. This is especially true in advanced economies where banking, shopping, communicating, and viewing culture and entertainment are all facilitated with a connection to the Web.

Yet 15 percent of Americans still do not use the Internet, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center. That's the same level as three years ago despite government and community efforts encouraging people to get online.

Perhaps it's more surprising, however, how much Internet use has grown in American in the last 15 years. In the year 2000, says Pew, an astounding 48 percent of Americans still were not using the Internet. Today, rates of non-Internet use have fallen by one-half and two-thirds among the elderly and those without a high school diploma, respectively.

The increase in Internet use is due in large part to the proliferation of smartphones, which have become the primary means for many people in disadvantaged populations to go online. But that access isn't sufficient and limits the amount a single user can achieve online.

Yet the elderly and the poor, as well as people living in rural areas, are the least likely to be using the Internet today.

  • About four in 10 adults ages 65 and older (39 percent) do not use the Internet, compared with only 3 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds. 
  • A third of adults with less than a high school education do not use the Internet, but that share falls as the level of educational attainment increases. 
  • Adults from households earning less than $30,000 a year are roughly eight times more likely than the most affluent adults to not use the Internet.
  • Rural Americans are about twice as likely as those who live in urban or suburban settings to never use the Internet.
  • That a digital divide exists along lines of age, income, and education is real cause for concern precisely because Internet access has become so commonplace and is so easily taken for granted. Those without easy Internet access risk being forgotten as new technology charges forward that the rest of the population is eager to adopt.

    The extent to which people cannot benefit from the services the Internet provides is certainly an argument in favor of the FCC's recent decision to legally treat online connectivity as a public utility. No word yet, however, on when it will protect your Internet bill from getting shut off.

    Stock photo © rudisill

    LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

    Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

    Getty Images
    Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

    No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

    Keep reading Show less

    4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

    In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

    (Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
    Politics & Current Affairs
    • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
    • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
    • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
    Keep reading Show less

    Why avoiding logical fallacies is an everyday superpower

    10 of the most sandbagging, red-herring, and effective logical fallacies.

    Photo credit: Miguel Henriques on Unsplash
    Personal Growth
    • Many an otherwise-worthwhile argument has been derailed by logical fallacies.
    • Sometimes these fallacies are deliberate tricks, and sometimes just bad reasoning.
    • Avoiding these traps makes disgreeing so much better.
    Keep reading Show less
    • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
    • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
    • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
    Keep reading Show less