The Pew Internet Project's recent survey on Digital Differences revealed that 20 percent of adults are "Internet innocents" -- people who don't go online and do not think the Web is relevant to them -- but hidden beneath those overall numbers are even more interesting tidbits.
I delved further into the Pew survey results and these five surprising results:
- When those Internet innocents were asked why they didn't go online, 31 percent of respondents said they were "just not interested." This was by far the biggest percentage -- the next largest group of respondents (12 percent) said they didn't have a computer. How can you "just not be interested" in something that is rewriting the rules of communication, politics, publishing, commerce ... the list goes on. Even my 92-year-old father gets e-mail.
- And speaking of senior citizens, the fastest-growing segment on social networking sites are older adults. You might have noticed this after your Aunt Ruth friended you on Facebook, but the results show that "this growth may be driven by several factors, some of which include the ability to reconnect with people from the past, find supporting communities to deal with a chronic disease, and connect with younger generations."
- Smartphones are doing what computers can't. The survey notes that "groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic Internet access are using wireless connections to go online." For instance, among those who own one, the smartphone is main source of Internet access not only young adults (no surprise there), but also minorities, high school graduates, and those with lower-than-average household incomes.
- Even more surprising, in almost every smartphone category, Hispanics are more likely than whites to use smartphone features with greater frequency, whether it's text messaging, Internet access, sending video, downloading an app or playing a game. Blacks also surpassed whites in their usage in most of the 14 categories, except for three in which the difference wasn't statistically significant.
- Here's the only depressing statistic. According to Pew, "the 27 percent of adults living with disability in the U.S. today are significantly less likely than adults without a disability to go online (54 percent vs. 81 percent)." Computers have been heralded as the portal for the disabled to more fully participate in society, but whether because of cost, ability or technology's limitations, that hasn't come true yet.