15% of Americans without Internet or cellphone

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Washington D.C. – Despite the continued rapid expansion of networked devices, there remains a substantial share of Americans that so far has not yet taken advantage of technologies such as the Internet or cellphones, according to a new report published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Almost half of the U.S. population is estimated to have a “distant or non-existent relationship to modern information technology.”

The report, which is based on responses from 4001 respondents, found that 85% of American adults are “connected,” by cellphone, Internet or both. This leaves 15 out of 100 Americans “off the network.” According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, this group consists mainly of older adults, who may have computers or digital cameras, but are somewhat content with old media.

Researchers identified a total of three different groups of information and communication technology (ICT) users in today’s society.

31% of the U.S. population is estimated to cover the “elite” of technology users: They make frequent use of the Internet and connected gadgets and can be subdivided into four distinct groups: There are  “omnivores” (8%) who “voraciously” participate in cyberspace, “connectors” (7%) who connect to people and manage digital content using ICTs, “lackluster veterans” (8%) who were among the early adopters of the Internet and are less avid about cell phones and “productivity enhancers” (8%) whose main focus is personal and professional communication.

The middle range of technology users accounts for 20% of the U.S. population. The group of “mobile centrics” (10%) has a preference for cell phones, use the Internet less often and contains a large share of African Americans, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Another 10%, are “connected but hassled” and find connectivity intrusive.

The third group of technology users makes up almost half (49%) of the American population and is believed to own relatively few technology assets. Researchers of the survey said that only 14% of this group has broadband Internet access at home. Besides 15% of people who are “off the network”, this group includes “inexperienced experimenters who occasionally use ICTs (8%), “light but satisfied” users who do not rely on technology as a central part of their daily lives (15%) and “indifferents” who find connectivity simply annoying.

The complete report is available as a free download from the website of the Pew Internet & American Life Project.