The results of a survey conducted recently by the Pew Research Center show that, while the percentage of Americans who do not use the Internet has dropped substantially since 2000, the size of the offline group has held steady at 15% of the national population since 2013. Released on Tuesday, Pew’s latest study of U.S. Internet usage is based on a series of polls, conducted earlier this year, which surveyed 5,005 adults over the age of 18. According to Pew, Internet non-usage correlates to the age of the user, household income, ethnicity, community location and educational levels. Senior citizens over the age of 65 constitute the largest offline group, with 39% of respondents in that age range reporting that they do not use the Internet. One-third of adults who have not obtained a high school diploma do not use the Internet, and households earning less than $30,000 annually are nearly eight times as likely as more affluent households to refrain from web use. The study also shows that rural residents are twice as likely as their urban or suburban counterparts to be non-connected.
Although the current study offers no details on why certain groups are offline, a 2013 survey conducted by Pew notes that 34% of non-Internet users reported a lack of interest in going online or did not believe the Internet was relevant in their lives. Another 34% cited difficulty in using the Internet, out of which 8% said they were “too old to learn.” Nineteen percent, meanwhile, pointed to the high cost of broadband service or the expense of obtaining a computer or smart phone equipment needed to access the web. As a spokesman for the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council maintained that “access to technology really mirrors the current wealth gap we see in our country,” a Pew spokesman remarked: “I think we do a service by reminding people that this [Internet] thing we think is ubiquitous isn’t really ubiquitous.”