You could be forgiven for thinking that every American is online. After all, the internet is something we take for granted. It is everywhere, and it affects just about every aspect of life. Still, data from the Pew Research Center shows that 7% of all Americans do not use the internet. Why is that?
Pew data indicates the primary factor being age. While we do not dispute that, we think there is a secondary factor as well: access problems in rural areas. Let us look at both issues in a bit more detail.
Older Americans and Technology
Research data shows that some 25% of adults aged sixty-five and older never go online. They don’t use Facebook or Twitter. They don’t have email accounts. They don’t use their phones to order food or shop for groceries. As surprising as this might be, it is completely understandable when you consider how older Americans grew up.
A person currently aged sixty-five was born in 1955 or ’56 depending on their birthday. Given that most of us don’t retain any memories prior to age five or six, the earliest memories a sixty-five-year-old would have been from the early 1960s. The world was quite different back then.
Electronic communications were rare. Those that did exist were limited to government applications. Average consumers got their news from the TV and newspapers. They communicated in person or over the phone. If they wanted to reach someone who didn’t live locally, they wrote letters.
Technology in the 1990s
The internet was not a public entity until the late 1980s. Even then, internet access was limited to local bulletin boards and services like Online America. By the time the internet we now know and love surfaced, it was the late 1990s. Adults born in the fifties were already in middle age and heading toward half-a-century themselves.
All of this is to say that this generation did not grow up with technology. Not only that, but they were also already set in their ways before the internet became a thing. They had already lived forty or so years without it, and they saw no reason to get on board with it. They were content with phone calls, letter writing, and shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.
Rural internet Access
Although the Pew research did not mention rural internet access, we know from our own experience that it’s a real problem for a lot of people. Despite broadband being so prevalent around the world, there are still large swathes of America without access to broadband. Rural residents in these areas can still use dial-up, but what’s the point? The internet moved on from dial-up a long, long time ago.
The good news is that rural residents now have options. Blazing Hog 4G rural internet is one such option. Unlike satellite internet, 4G internet relies on the same cellular signals that power our smartphones. And because it is built on 4G LTE networks, it is remarkably fast.
The downside is that some rural areas are still underserved by cell towers. If you don’t have a cell tower close enough to get a strong signal, 4G LTE rural internet will not do you much good. You are left with satellite service or an old-school dial-up subscription.
The vast majority of Americans get online daily. But for 7% of population, the internet is an unknown entity. They don’t use it to communicate with friends and family members. They don’t shop online. They don’t check online news sites or stream their favorite TV shows. That’s okay. No one has to use the internet unwillingly.