As part of its in-depth examination of the role that the internet and technology plays in the lives of Americans, Pew Research Center has released the results of a long-term study of Americans’ access to the internet from 2000 to 2015. The study is based on 97 surveys distributed nationwide throughout the past 15 years.
In 2000, just over half (52%) of American adults were Internet users, while as of 2015 more than four-fifths (84%) of Americans are using the internet. The surveys found that the biggest contributors to internet usage are age, education, household income, race, and the kind of community one lives in. Of these four factors, age and education play the biggest role in determining whether an individual gets online. While nearly all (96%) young adults today use the internet, the number of adults 65 years old and older who do just crept over 50% in 2012. However, older adults are now adopting the internet at a faster rate now than their younger counterparts. Similarly, while an overwhelming majority of adults with a college degree or higher are internet users (95%), that number drops down to just two-thirds (66%) of those who have not completed a high school degree.
Still, it’s clear that the internet has permeated the lives of Americans over a relatively short period of time, reaching full saturation for young adults that are highly educated and live in high-income households. In fact, the internet has become such an integral part of everyday life for most Americans that an 84% usage rate may seem surprisingly low for some. In order to ensure that this number doesn’t plateau, it’s necessary to continue working towards equal resources and access for all Americans.
Read the full results of Pew’s 15-year study on internet access here.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.