The internet has made it possible to do activities such as shop, communicate and be entertained from anywhere a connection is available. And, since the start of the pandemic people have been turning to the internet even more for daily activities. In fact, Q1 2021 survey data from Pew Research Center shows that 31% of US adults go online “almost constantly,” up from 28% in 2019.
Alongside the increase in those who are online nearly all the time, 85% of adults say they go online at least daily (up from 81% in 2019), with nearly half (48%) saying they go online several times a day.
Taking a closer look at the adults who are spending almost all their time online, it comes as no surprise to find that young adults (ages 18-29) are the ones most frequently connected to the internet, with almost half (48%) saying they go online almost constantly. At the other end of the spectrum, only 8% of adults ages 65 and older are able to say the same.
Compared to 2 years ago, there has been growth in the percentage of Black adults who are online almost constantly. Some 37% of Black adults report being almost constantly on the internet, with this up from 25% in 2019. Indeed, the share of Black adults who are online almost all the time now exceeds Hispanics (36%). In the meantime, White adults continue to lag behind at 28%.
Some 4 in 10 (41% of) US college graduates are online almost constantly — up from 36% in 2019. This is compared to the fewer than one-quarter (23%) of individuals with a high school diploma or less who say the same.
Who Doesn’t Use the Internet?
According to additional data from the Pew Research Center survey, only 7% of US adults claim to not use the internet at all, with this representing an improvement from 10% in 2019 and 15% in 2013. So, who are these individuals and what factors set them apart from frequent internet users? Here’s a look:
While older Americans are upping their game when it comes to adopting technology like smartphones, the oldest adults surveyed (65+) remain the age group who are most likely to avoid the internet entirely.
One-quarter of adults ages 65 and older report not using the internet at all, a small decrease over those who said the same in 2019 (27%). Put into perspective, a much smaller percentage of adults ages 50-64 (4%), 30-49 (2%) and 18-29 (1%) say they do not use the internet at all.
Household Income and Educational Attainment
Nearly all adults with household incomes of at least $50K use the internet. The same can be said for 91% of those with a household income of $30-50K. These figures are fairly consistent with 2019.
That said, 14% of individuals with household incomes less than $30K say they don’t use the internet, down from 18% in 2019.
Much like with household income, those adults with the least amount of education are the most likely to not use the internet. Some 14% of adults with a high school diploma or less don’t use the internet, a high figure compared to adults with some college (3%) and with at least a college degree (2%).
Lastly, 1 in 10 adults from a rural area report not using the internet. That’s about twice the share of those from suburban (6%) or urban (5%) communities. However, the percentage of rural Americans who don’t use the internet has dropped from 15% in 2019.
About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 1,502 US adults (18+) conducted between January 25 and February 8, 2021.