Nearly 80% of Americans were using the Internet by November of last year, according to new research from the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA). Mow in its 15th edition, the NTIA partners with the U.S. Census Bureau for the NTIA Internet Use Survey.
The digital divide is often painted as rural-urban divide, and while that’s a factor, it’s not the only factor. Survey results reveal that while seniors and other demographic groups reported increases in Internet use, a persistent digital divide still exists based on income levels, age groups and race.
The proportion of Americans ages 3 and older using the Internet rose slightly to 79% in 2019, compared to 78% in 2017, according to the survey. Internet usage has increased 11 percentage points since 2009.
Yet some demographic groups remained less likely to go online than their peers. African Americans and Hispanics were 7 percentage points less likely to use the Internet, and Asian Americans were 4 percentage points less likely to do so, compared with white non-Hispanics.
The survey also revealed that Internet use among Americans with family incomes below $25,000 per year increased from 62% in 2017 to 65% in 2019, though this was still far short of the 87% of those with annual family incomes of $100,000 or more.
Seniors at least 65 years of age showed one of the largest gains in Internet use of any demographic group, with usage increasing 5 percentage points to 68%.
The popularity of different device types continues to shift to mobile units. In 2011, desktop PCs were the most commonly used type of computing device at 45%, with only 27% using a smartphone. By 2019, smartphones were most used by 68% and PCs by only 28%.
Americans are also using more devices, with 64% using at least two different types of devices in 2019, and 45% using at least three different types of devices.
However, multiple device use was not consistent across demographic groups. People with annual family incomes under $25,000 reported using an average of 1.4 different types of devices in 2019, compared with an average of 2.8 device types among those with family incomes of $100,000 or more, according to the survey.