Switched Off: Why Are One in Five US Households Not Online?

According to Internet Use Survey Data, which tracks disparities around Internet adoption,  a majority – 58% – of the 24 million offline households express no interest or need to be online. There is also a large proportion who say they can’t afford home Internet service (18%).  Regardless of their stated reasons for non-use, offline households have significantly lower incomes than their online counterparts. This suggests that even after overcoming other barriers, the cost may be an additional challenge for many offline households. Many households citing reasons other than expense may nevertheless still struggle with the cost of home Internet service and suitable devices in addition to challenges such as a lack of digital skills, barriers to accessibility, and other issues. Interestingly, a small but growing proportion of offline households—4 percent in 2021—cited a lack of Internet availability in the area, overtaking those that said they lacked a working computer. These results suggest that multiple strategies are necessary to stimulate greater adoption of the Internet, including subsidy programs such as the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), the Digital Equity Act, and other initiatives to increase digital skills, equip people with suitable devices, and ensure important online services are accessible to all.

Switched Off: Why Are One in Five U.S. Households Not Online?