Americans Use The Internet Differently

from the not-a-homogeneous-population dept

While studies like to talk about aggregate results for the “online US population” a new Pew study shows that internet usage around the US is very different. It appears that the midwest and the south have noticeably lower rates of internet usage than the coasts. Furthermore, for those who were online, what they did with their internet access was often very different, depending on where they were in the country. On the coasts, people tended to stay online longer and do more “advanced” activities like online shopping. In the middle of the country there was less usage – but it was more focused on communicating with friends. Of course, a lot of the activity could also be described along education and income level as well – suggesting the digital divide isn’t such a myth after all. There were some consistencies: everyone used email and surfed eBay, for example. Of course, I don’t think much of this should be a surprise to anyone – nor do I think it’s bad in any way. It just shows that the internet has many different uses, and lots of people use it to suit their own needs.

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Comments on “Americans Use The Internet Differently”

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Shari says:

Re: No Subject Given

This doesn’t take into consideration the way areas are wired. Many areas are still limited to dialup, which can be expensive, slow, and frustrating. Cable modems and DSL are not the norm for many areas of the country, which impacts time online and tasks completed. Some things aren’t worth doing with a dialup. Until access is equal in all areas, a study like this seems inane to me.

Agust Jackson (user link) says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

This is actually a good point. While the article itself does not go into the subject, the Pew report does make regional distinctions also into “how” people access the Internet (at work, at home and then if at home via dial-up, DSL or cable modem). I have not read the research exhaustively, so I cannot say whether or not it gives adequate weight to the method of connectivity determining the activity in which one engages.

Judging by the e-mail I receive from my on-line relatives, I would conclude that folks in the Midwest only use the Internet to send chain letters.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No Subject Given

My point was just that online shopping is not the first thing people do online… Many people, whent they first get online are nervous about shopping. So, they get used to surfing and emailing before they do anything with money.

I didn’t mean that it was “technically” more advanced or anything like that, but in the order people do things online, that usually comes later.

dorpus says:

What if some people do fine without the net?

When I had to live in Pittsburgh for 3 years, I kept meeting all these people in their 20s who had no ambition, had never travelled outside the city in their life, had no interest in travelling, saw movies about once a year, and were content to stay in the same neighborhood for the rest of their lives, where they would have children, who would also spend the rest of their lives there. They had jobs as house painters, burger flippers, or whatever, and such jobs are surprisingly stable.

It could be that there will be a digitial divide, but the people on the other side choose to be there, and do not suffer much.

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