Why do 15% of Americans “shun” the Internet?

Pew finds that 15% of Americans don’t use the Internet.

The report by the Pew Research Center found a whopping 92 percent of these “offline adults” with no interest in using the Internet or email in the near future…

The survey found 34 percent of the offline Americans said the Internet is not relevant to them, that they are not interested, do not want to use it, or have no need for it.

Another 32 percent in this group said they believe using the Internet is difficult or frustrating to use, or cite issues such as spam, spyware, and hackers.

Pew found 19 percent of non-Internet users cited the expense of owning a computer or online connections, and just seven percent said the Internet was not available to them…

Age was a major factor in Internet usage: 44 percent of those 65 and older said they do not use the Internet, compared with 17 percent of the next-youngest age group, 50 to 64.

In the 18-29 age group, 87 percent use the Internet and just 13 percent do not, Pew found.

Those with lower incomes or less education, and Hispanics were also less likely to go online.

Some 41 percent who failed to finish high school were not using the Internet, as were 24 percent of Hispanics and 24 percent of those in households earning less than $30,000 per year, according to the researchers.

The next question to ask is what do these 15% lose by not using the Internet. Knowledge? Reading enlightening comment sections? Shopping deals? Getting a job or taking a MOOC? The ability to participate in a modern democracy? This data suggests they don’t think the benefits outweigh the hassles (learning curve, cost, etc.).

I’ve suggested the idea before of Internet access becoming a basic human right. But what if not everyone wants such a right? Or, a different twist on this is a world where everyone has to be connected to the Internet. In other words, it is not really a right but more of a necessity to survive. Or, being fully human means participating in the Internet. I suspect some would find these required options much more sinister.

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