Digital Divide Remains As Lower-Income Americans’ Tech Adoption Continues to Lag

July 23, 2021

This article is included in these additional categories:

Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Household Income | Industries | Mobile Phone | Non-mobile Connected Devices | Tablet | Technology

Pew Tech Adoption by Household Income July2021Most adults say they go online at least daily, but how they are accessing the internet often depends on their income level and the devices they own. A recent survey by Pew Research Center shows that a gap exists in regards to income level and the adoption of digital technology.

While earlier reports say 85% of US adults own smartphones and two-fifths planned to purchase more tech during the pandemic, Pew Research Center’s survey of more than 1,500 US adults found that many of those with an annual household income (HHI) of less than $30K do not own a smartphone (24%), laptop or desktop (41%) or tablet (59%).

On the other hand, these devices are commonplace for those with a higher HHI, especially for those making more than $100K. In fact, 87% of those with a HHI between $30K and $100K and 97% of those with a HHI of more than $100K own a smartphone. Similarly, 84% of those with an HHI of $30K-$100K own a desktop or laptop computer and more than half (53%) own a tablet, while 92% of those with an HHI more than $100K own a computer and almost 7 in 10 (68%) own a tablet.

Broadband Access

Data from the Leichtman Research Group indicates that roughly 8 in 10 households have home broadband. However, Pew Research Group’s survey shows that fewer than 6 in 10 (57% of) adults with HHI of less than $30K have home broadband, with a little more than one-quarter (27%) of individuals in this income bracket relying on their smartphone to access the internet. This appears to be especially common for those with a high school education or less and Hispanics, where nearly one-quarter of each group is smartphone-dependent.

By comparison, nearly all (93%) of those US adults with a household income of more than $100K have access to home broadband, while more than 8 in 10 (83%) of those in the middle HHI range have home broadband. And, while the share of those with a HHI of more than $100K who are smartphone-only internet users has increased, albeit slightly (5% in 2019 to 6% in 2021) the share of those with a HHI of $30K-100K who only use their smartphone to access the internet at home has declined between 2019 (14%) and 2021 (11%).

Read more here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a Q1 survey of 1,502 US adults.

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