Who's Not Online and Why

While internet usage has become more widespread in recent years, there are still some groups of people who are not online. The reasons for this vary, but some common factors include:


    Older adults are less likely to be online than younger generations. This can be due to factors such as lack of familiarity with technology, or physical and cognitive limitations that make it difficult to use the internet.

    Income and education

    People with lower incomes and less education are less likely to have access to the internet, as well as the devices and services necessary to use it.

    Geographic location

    People living in rural areas may have limited access to broadband internet, which can make it difficult to get online.


    People with disabilities may face barriers to accessing the internet, such as inaccessible websites or digital content.

    Cultural and language barriers

    People who speak languages other than English, or who come from cultures with different norms around technology use, may face barriers to getting online.

    Privacy and security concerns

    Some people may be hesitant to go online due to concerns around privacy and security, such as fears of identity theft or surveillance.

    Personal choice

    Some people may choose not to be online for personal or philosophical reasons, such as a desire to disconnect from technology or maintain privacy.

15% of American adults do not use the internet at all, and another 9% of adults use the internet but not at home

15% of American adults ages 18 and older do not use the internet or email. Asked why they do not use the internet:

    - 34% of non-internet users think the internet is just not relevant to them, saying they are not interested, do not want to use it, or have no need for it.

    - 32% of non-internet users cite reasons tied to their sense that the internet is not very easy to use. These non-users say it is difficult or frustrating to go online, they are physically unable, or they are worried about other issues such as spam, spyware, and hackers. This figure is considerably higher than in earlier surveys.

    - 19% of non-internet users cite the expense of owning a computer or paying for an internet connection.

    - 7% of non-users cited a physical lack of availability or access to the internet.



As in previous surveys by the Pew Research Center's Internet Project, internet use remains strongly correlated with age, educational attainment, and household income. One of the strongest patterns in the data on internet use is by age group: 44% of Americans ages 65 and older do not use the internet, and these older Americans make up almost half (49%) of non-internet users overall.

Though they themselves do not go online, these self-described non-internet users often report that the internet touches their lives:

    - 44% of offline adults have asked a friend or family member to look something up or complete a task on the internet for them.

    - 23% of offline adults live in a household where someone else uses the internet at home, a proportion that has remained relatively steady for over a decade.

    - 14% of offline adults say that they once used to use the internet, but have since stopped for some reason.

Overall, most adults who do not use the internet or email do not express a strong desire to go online in the future: just 8% of offline adults say they would like to start using the internet or email, while 92% say they are not interested. We also offline adults whether they would need assistance going online if they did wish to do so, and found that only 17% of all non-internet users say they would be able to start using the internet on their own, while 63% say they would need assistance.

Even among the 85% of adults who do go online, experiences connecting to the internet may vary widely. For instance, while 76% of adults use the internet at home, 9% of adults use the internet but lack home access. Groups that are significantly more likely to rely on internet access outside the home include blacks and Hispanics, as well as adults at lower levels of income and education. Finally, while most home internet users have broadband in some form, 3% of all adults go online at home via dial-up connections.1

About this survey

The findings in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 17 to May 19, 2013, among a sample of 2,252 adults ages 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline and cell phone. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. More information is available in the Methods section at the end of this report.

Article: Pew Research Center's Internet Project.

Internet & Social Media: "Who's Not Online and Why"