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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

One in seven Americans will never, ever read this

Pew Internet & American Life Project



And I don't mean they're just unlikely to know that it's here, or find it interesting enough to read, or even to be able to read. I mean there's a zero percent chance they will even stumble upon this.

That's because they never use the Internet.

According to a poll released today by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, 15 percent of Americans don't use the Internet at all, and prefer it that way.

Just for a frame of reference, more than twice that many Americans own an iPad or other tablet computer. (Fun fact: Roughly the same percentage of Americans said they had consulted with a fortune teller or psychic in a 2012 Pew survey.)

What's more, it should tell you something if that number seems high to you — because it's never, ever been lower.

That feels significant, doesn't it? That statistic has shown a steady decline since 1995, and it's still hard to believe there are that still that many people who don't use the Internet at all.

So, who are these offline Americans? Unsurprisingly, they tend to be poor, advanced in age and lacking educational attainment. Only 8 percent of them say they want to be online but can't for one reason or another. Twenty percent of them cited expense as a reason for not using the Internet. To my eye, age looks like the determining factor. About half of them are over 65, and 62 percent of them are 77 or older. That stands in stark contrast to the 18–29 age group, 98 percent of whom are online.

Think about that the next time you send an email to someone in your family.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 26, 2013 3:38pm]


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