With all the discussion of the transformative potential of social media and online services, people often fail to acknowledge that the Internet is still not universally accessible. Even in developed Western democracies a significant portion of the population remains offline. The Digital Future survey found that 18 percen of Americans did not go online in 2009. The study also registered marked disparities in Internet usage based on sex, age, and income.

The Digital Future Project has explored patterns of Internet use and non-use for more than a decade. During that time, non-users have consistently reported four major factors preventing them from going online.

In 2009, the most common reason for not using the Internet was “no interest/not useful,” cited by 30 percent of the offline population. This same percentage (30 percent) was recorded in 2008, a significant increase from the 19 percent in 2007.

The second most cited reason (27 percent) in 2009 was “no computer/no internet connection,” down slightly from 29 percent in 2008. The third most important factor keeping people offline had to do with digital literacy. In both 2009 and 2008 over a sixth of non-users (15 percent) cited “don’t know how to use Internet/confused by technology” as their main concern. Expenses related to Internet use was the fourth key reason, given by 11 percent of the offline respondents in 2009, up from 8 percent in 2008.

Reasons for not going online
(Internet non-users)



For the full report of the 2009 findings, visit here.

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