Although it may seem the entire U.S. is steeped in digital this and social media that, a recent Pew Internet study reveals 15% of American adults over 18 don’t use the Internet at all.
The reasons why this group of adults is offline vary in both nature and degree–more than a third of the more than 2,200 adults surveyed said they didn’t find the Internet relevant to their lives or see a need for it. About 20% said owning a computer and paying for an Internet connection were too expensive. And 7% said they lacked Internet access.
But the reason 32% of offline adults don’t use the Internet today is because they find it difficult to use. Compare that to results from a similar study in 2010, in which less than 20% of offline adults cited difficulty of use as a primary deterrent to going online. “Difficulty” can constitute anything from an inability to access the Internet or concerns over issues like spam, spyware, and hackers.
In the three short years since 2010, we’ve seen the birth of new online products and services like Instagram, as well as explosive growth from existing ones like Twitter. When there are so many more options online available to us than ever, it’s confusing that more adults are shying away from the Internet because it’s “too difficult” to use. But should the fact that so many new options are available to us mean we should feel compelled to learn them all? If so, it’s no wonder the Internet of 2013 is anything short of overwhelming. But if not, why are more adults saying it’s too hard to find their way? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.