- 70% of American adults have broadband at home
- 3% are still on dial-up
- A person’s age, education level, ethnicity, and household income radically affect broadband adoption
- 95% of young adults have home broadband and/or a smartphone while only 46% of seniors have home broadband and/or a smart phone.
- 46% of Americans have both home broadband and a smartphone
- 24% have home broadband, but no smartphone
- 10% have a smartphone, but no home broadband
- and the last 20% have neither home broadband nor a smartphone
Subtracting out for the 3% who are still on dial-up (since they have some kind of [albeit crappy] personal internet access), that’s still a whopping 17% of the U.S. population that does not have any kind of independent, personal internet access. These individuals might have access at work or school, but looking at the correlation of lack of access to low income, lack of education, and age (read: retired folks), I think that’s doubtful for many of the people in this category.
So who’s left to fill the gap here? Who’s left to provide internet access for the 17%?
Why, the public library of course.
If you hear from people, as I do, that “the digital divide is gone,” make your meanest, angriest librarian face and tell them the facts.
If someone tells you that “only homeless people checking email and bratty kids playing games ever use the computers,” take a photo of your computer users some afternoon and then staple it to that person’s chest with a very large staple gun.
The digital divide is alive and well (unfortunately), and the public library is the only thing standing between our users and complete disconnection from the modern information world.