My 77-year-old uncle just got his first cell phone. It is probably also his first way to explore the internet. Until now, he has been among the 20% of Americans who do not use the Internet at home, work, school or by mobile device.
In my former profession, the community-destination marketing organizations (DMOs) with mobile-optimized websites are already finding that as much of 40% of their web traffic is generated from mobile devices vs. desktops.
Mobile is projected to eclipse desktop as a means of browsing the web late this year or early next, overcoming a substantial lead just since the dawn of 2010 when I retired.
A snapshot from a rolling survey published this summer and entitled, Exploring the Digital Nation, reveals that the predominant reason given by those who are still not online including the 28% of Americans who don’t have access at home is a “lack of interest or desire.”
Those without home access often find access in other locations such as, public libraries 32%, someone else’s house 29%, school 25%, work 23%, Wi-fi hotspots or Internet cafes 6% and community centers 5%.
Still, I keep coming back to the finding that almost half (48%) of those who don’t have access at home just aren’t interested or motivated compared to 28% who site cost or 13% who don’t have a computer or have one that is inadequate and 3% who can use it somewhere else.
Of those who aren’t interested or still don’t think they need access to the Internet at home, 53% are white, 56% are Asian Americans, 40% are African American and 39% are Hispanic.
A far lower percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics have access than do whites and Asian Americans and a third of African-Americans and Hispanics cite that it is too expensive. Twenty-seven percent of urban households and 38% of rural households do not have Internet at home.
Of those Americans who simply aren’t interested or motivated to have access at home, 52% have never had it and 20% had it once but disconnected. Of those who cite expense as a reason, 26% have never had access and 41% have disconnected. Twelve percent have never had a computer at home and 21% who disconnected either no longer have one or have one that is inadequate.
A lot is being done to make sure people have access to the Internet. It is in the national interest because as the report notes, people who can access the web are more civically engaged.
It has also become the predominate way to search out jobs. But I am worried by those who just aren’t interested or who don’t see the need.
Moving forward, that is a lot of people, especially in the South, who are electing to stay in the dark and who are possibly just giving up.