How Does Your Internet Usage Compare With Others?
The internet has transformed the way we communicate, do business, and even the way we entertain ourselves. Each year, the number of internet users increases, as does the amount of time we spend online each day.
As network infrastructure continues to expand, access to the internet has become more widely available. Mobile technology has made it easier to connect whenever and wherever we want. Yet not everyone is online. There are several key factors that influence who's online and who isn't.
More Americans are Online Than Ever Before
Internet usage in the U.S. is growing year over year. According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center — which you can access at pewinternet. org/fact-sheet/internet-broadband — more than three quarters of Americans (77 percent) say they're online every day. Of that number, 43 percent say they go online multiple times a day, and 26 percent describe themselves as being online "constantly."
Depending on your own internet use, these results may not be surprising. But consider that in 2000, only 52 percent of Americans said they accessed the internet with any regularity. Even as recently as 2015, just 21 percent of people said they were online "constantly." That increase, 5 percent in just three years, suggests that internet adoption among Americans is accelerating.
Still, Not Everyone Is Connected
With so many advances in technology, it has never been easier to get online. Yet despite the widespread availability of the internet and its place in everyday life, there remains a small segment of the population who are not online at all. According to the study, one in ten Americans (11%) say they almost never use the internet.
The reasons differ. One third (34 percent) of those who do not use the internet say they don't believe they need it or that it has any relevance to their lives. Another third (32 percent) say the internet is too intimidating and they're "too old to learn." A smaller portion (19 percent) cite cost as the reason they don't go online. Some people cannot afford to pay for internet services, and still others do not have the means to afford their own computer.
Age and Location Can Make a Big Difference
While the overall percentage of Americans who use the internet is high, a closer look shows that certain demographic factors correlate to higher or lower internet use.
For starters, the younger you are, the more time you're likely to spend online. In fact, the largest proportion of internet users who are constantly online (39 percent) are in the 18-29 age bracket. On the other end of the spectrum, only 8 percent of those 65 and older say they're online constantly.
Where you live also seems to make a difference. People who live in rural areas do not use the internet as much as people who live in urban or suburban settings. In fact, twice as many rural Americans say they never use the internet as those who live in urban or suburban settings. These numbers suggest that although internet infrastructure is expanding every year, remote areas are still lagging.
Closing the Gap
The trend is clear: internet use in the U.S. is growing. Yet despite government efforts and incentives to "spread the net" with expanded internet access, there are still people who are not yet online. However, as this technology becomes more affordable and more essential to everyday life, internet connections are likely to become as commonly used in homes as electricity.
FAST FACT: 83 percent of Americans access the internet with a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, and 89 percent of that group say they're online every day.
Factors Related to Higher Internet Use
In addition to age and community, there are other factors that seem to correlate with higher internet use. According to the Pew Research Center, these are the most common:
- Mobile connectivity: 83 percent of Americans access the internet from mobile devices, and 89 percent of them are online every day. In contrast, just 54 percent who do not use mobile devices to access the internet say they're online daily, and only 5 percent say they're online constantly.
- Education: 34 percent of adults with a college education (or higher) are online almost constantly. By contrast, just 20 percent of adults with a high school education (or less) are online all the time.
- Income: 35 percent of adults with an annual household income of $75K or more use the internet almost constantly (and 91 percent of that group use it daily). However, among people who earn $30K per year, only 24 percent are online with the same regularity.