America offline: Why 15 percent of U.S. adults don’t use the Internet

Everything from Facebook to YouTube to Reddit is completely foreign to 15 percent of Americans.


Mike Fenn


Published Sep 26, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 5:35 am CDT

Everything from Facebook to YouTube to Reddit is completely foreign to 15 percent of Americans.

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The results of a new Pew Research survey concluded that 15 percent of American adults never—that’s right, never—use the Internet for any reason. Thirty-four percent of the 2,252 people surveyed claim that the Internet is simply not relevant to them, while another 32 percent state that the Internet is “not easy to use.” 

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Sure, this means that these adults are safe from the likes of 4chan, ridiculous memes, and online privacy concerns. However, it can prove detrimental in far more important areas. For example, the AARP states that “discussing employability skills would be incomplete without discussing technology.” Additionally, a 2012 Pew Research survey concluded that over half of Americans now get their news digitally, either via online news sources or social media.

What’s more, the amount of offline cat videos is far less than the amount of online cat videos. Where do these people go for their daily fix of aww?

While they may have personally never clicked the Chrome icon, the respondents appear to be aware of the Internet’s importance and abilities. Close to half (44 percent) admitted that they have “asked a friend or family member to look something up or complete a task on the internet for them,” while another 23 percent live in a household where someone else regularly uses the Internet. It wasn’t touched upon in the survey, but chances are that most of the people who admitted to this likely used a phrase like “look it up on the Google.”

Unfortunately, the respondents also appear to be stubborn and set in their ways. A whopping 92 percent of adults currently “offline” have no desire to ever go online in the future. Again, maybe their tune will change when they can be promised an Internet free from rage comics.

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Photo via cell105/Flickr

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*First Published: Sep 26, 2013, 1:55 pm CDT