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Who's not online in the US and why?


September 25, 2000: This message was distributed by Papyrus News, a free e-mail distribution list on the global impact of information technology on language, literacy, and education. Feel free to forward this message to others, preferably with this introduction. For information on Papyrus News, including how to (un)subscribe or access archives, see <>.


September 25, 2000

New Research from Pew Internet & American Life Project

Who's Not Online: 57% of those without Internet access say they do not plan to log on by Amanda Lenhart, Research Specialist

Half the adults (18+) in America, approximately 100 million people, do not have Internet access. Previous studies of adults using the Internet and those not using the Internet have sought primarily to quantify how many people are or are not online, leaving unanswered the questions about the attitudes, motivations, and descriptions of those not online. Who's Not Online, released recently by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, seeks to answer these unanswered - and unasked - questions by going a step further and asking offline adults about their intentions and desires to get wired. Through a series of nearly continuous surveys of 17,371 adults - of which 8,596 were either non-Internet or non-computer users - during the time period from April 2000 to August 2000, the following data were collected.

The more notable findings arose when non-users were questioned about 1) their experiences online, 2) their intention of going online permanently, and 3) their concerns about the Internet environment. For example, non-users tend to be concerned about either the dangers that exist on the Internet or protecting their privacy.

The majority of adults without Internet access say they are likely to stay away from the Internet. A third of non-users (32%) say they definitely will not get Internet access. Another 25% of non-Internet users say they probably will not venture online. Specifically, Pew found:

Additionally, the attitudes of those not online give some clue why they may not be using the Internet:


"Net Dropouts" make up about 13% of the not-online population. Younger adults are the most likely to have dropped or lost Internet access. Net Dropouts are relatively young, tend to have less education than Internet users and come from households with less income.

Computer Users Are Not Necessarily Internet Users

Fourteen percent of American adults are computer users, but not Internet users. Large numbers of this group believe that the Internet is dangerous and expensive. Compared to the entire Internet population, they seem more likely to be members of minority groups and have less income in their households and their educational attainment is not as high as the Internet-user cohort.

Categorizing Non-Internet Users

The Pew report separates those adults without Internet access into three groups:

The Eagers look much like those who are already online. Eagers are young, under 30, weighted a bit towards women, Hispanics, and African-Americans. About 45% of Eagers are male and 55% are female.

The Reluctants are older, slightly more likely to be female and slightly more likely to be white. The Reluctants are 56% women. 26% of whites say they probably won't go online compared to 19% of blacks and 23% of Hispanics. In attitude, 60% of Reluctants say they don't think they are missing anything by not being online. Many say they think the Internet is confusing, hard to use, and would be dangerous or too expensive.

The Nevers are predominantly determined by their age, education level and household income. Women make up 57% of the Never population. Eighty-one percent of Nevers are over the age of 50. Fully 82% of the Nevers have a high school diploma or less and 43% of this group earns less than $30,000. Only 19% of Nevers felt that by not being online they are missing out on something.

For more information, contact:
Pew Internet & American Life Project
1100 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 710
Washington, D.C. 20036
Lee Rainie, Director
Susannah Fox, Director of Research
John Horrigan, Senior Research Specialist
Tom Spooner, Research Specialist

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Last updated: September 29, 2000 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0