You're reading this on the Internet right now, but some 15 percent of American adults aren't online -- and the Pew Internet and American Life Project just released new data on them.
So who are these people? Unsurprisingly, they tend to skew towards the elderly, the poor, and those with less academic attainment. The age disparity is particularly marked, with 44 percent of those aged 65 and older being offline compared to only 2 percent of those aged 18-29. And if you look at the G.I. generation, those currently 77 or older, 62 percent are offline. People over 65 make up almost half of offline adult Americans.
Similarly, 41 percent of adults without a high school diploma are offline compared to just 4 percent of people with a college degree or more. The household income divide is less extreme, but still substantial with 24 percent of adults in households making less than $30,000 per year being disconnected from the Internet compared to 4 percent of adults in households with annual above $75,000.
But being offline currently doesn't mean ignorance of the Internet. Some 14 percent of offline adults surveyed were online in the past, but have since stopped for some reason. Plus, 23 percent of them live in households where someone else uses the Internet.
The two major reasons American adults cite for being offline are relevance and usability, with 34 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of offline respondents citing those issues. While some 7 percent say they lack access, cost is a more major concern with 19 percent of those surveyed citing it versus the 7 percent who cited availability.
Fears about usability are also reflected in how offline adults report they would need help if they decided to go online in the future. Some 63 percent say they would need assistance, while only 17 percent say they could figure it out on their own. Only 13 percent of all offline adults answered that question by saying they would not want to use the Internet. But interestingly, elsewhere in the Pew report it says only 5 percent of adults aged 65 or older say they would like to start using the Internet or e-mail.
But many offline adults see the Internet as a valuable resource even if they are not personally online. According to Pew, 44 percent of offline adults have asked friends or family to look something up or do something on the Internet for them.