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Internet Use Hasn’t Grown Since 2006–Has the Web Reached a Plateau?

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Since 2006, the number of American adults using the Internet has leveled, according to a new survey of 2,258 people from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. In 2006, just slightly more than 70% of Americans were regular Internet users. Today, that number is 74%.

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“The market has gotten pretty saturated, and the majority of Americans who want Internet now have it,” says Lee Rainie, director of the project. “There also might be some economic effect going on–modest numbers of Americans say they’re struggling financially, and one of the things they’re cutting back on is broadband connection.”

This particular survey includes findings from interviews conducted in Spanish, which tends to slightly reduce numbers as those questioned are more likely to be less educated or from a lower-income family, Rainie says. Just 55% of Hispanic respondents are regular Internet users.

However, an increase in broadband use is largely attributed to minority groups who are, in fact, adopting the Internet for the first time, or switching from dial-up, Rainie says.

Unsurprisingly, accessing the Internet wirelessly is also growing in popularity. The number of Americans connecting wirelessly, via laptop or mobile device, is 55% and growing, demonstrating that even though the Internet’s reach may stop growing, the way we utilize it will continue to change.

“Government policy is so focused on mobile Internet access–there’s stimulus money already allocated to it,” Rainie says. “The tech community itself continues to innovate, so there’s nowhere for use to go but up.”

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/ / CC BY 2.0

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