Advanced age + low income and lack of education = offline

Recently, communications advisor Cecilia Garcia, and Bob Harootyan of Senior Service America, published a revealing analysis for the Benton Foundation. They looked at two separate 2014 surveys from the Pew Internet and American Life project, and combined data on age, income and education to closely examine Internet use among seniors.

Overall, they found “that 41-43% of persons age 65+ do not use the Internet, compared to only 13-14% of all adults age 18+ .” But age alone does not account for the drastic difference. “The reasons for this continuing digital divide,” surmise the authors, “involve seniors’ concerns about affordability, a belief that the Internet holds no relevance for them, and a fear that computers are too difficult to learn.”

Not surprisingly, those who are both older and poorer suffer. “Our analysis,” write the authors, “shows that only 33% of all persons age 65+ with annual incomes less than $20,000 use the Internet, compared to 89% of seniors with incomes of $50,000 or more.”

Similarly, education drastically affects use. “... 19% of seniors without a high school diploma use the Internet, compared to 88% of seniors with a BA degree or higher.”

The result is “the triple jeopardy of being on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

Age alone, though, is less significant when seniors have sufficient income and education. However, that is no reason to rejoice, because as Garcia and Harootyan observe, “We cannot change people’s age. And significant improvements in seniors’ income and education are unlikely.”

A Deeper Dive into the Data: Seniors and the Internet (Benton, Feb. 23, 2015)

Continuing Pew Internet surveys
(Pew Internet and American Life website)