It may be hard to believe in the year 2013, but there are a lot of people who still don't use the Internet. A new survey from the Pew Research Center found 15% of adults never go online, and another nine percent only use the Internet at work. The research also found that the vast majority of those offline adults avoid the Internet by choice. Two thirds of respondents who don't go online say they either have no interest in it, or it's too difficult and frustrating. Syracuse University pop culture professor Robert Thompson says it seems surprising that nearly 20 years after the world wide web burst onto the scene, some people still aren't on board. "None of my students I think could conceive of the existence on planet Earth without constantly being able to use the Internet," he tells KTRH.
It turns out there is a group of people who can function without laptops, tablets, smartphones, or high-speed Internet service. "One can certainly understand how there are a lot of people out there for whom their lives before the Internet may not have changed that much after the Internet happened," says Thompson. Indeed, the survey found age was a big factor, with 44% of those over 65 saying they never use the Internet, while only 13% of those 18-29 don't go online. Thompson notes there are other factors, as well. "It's not surprising that people of lower income and people of lower education tend to have higher percentages of non-usage, as well as people who are older," he says.
One thing that isn't much of a factor in Internet use is access. The survey showed just seven percent of offline adults said the Internet wasn't available to them. The study also found that just because people aren't on the Internet, that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't using the Internet. The survey said 44% of those who don't go online have asked someone else to go online for them. "I could see that some of these 15 percent (who don't use the web) could get to be real irritants to the rest of the population, when they say oh well I'm not on the Internet but could you look this up for me," says Thompson.