Fully 85% of American adults use the internet or cell phones (most use both) – and many have broadband connections, digital cameras and video game systems – but only 8% of US adults fully exploit the connectivity, the capacity for self expression, and the interactivity that those tools make possible, according to the Pew Internet Project’s typology of information and communication technology (ICT) users.
The typology categorizes Americans based on their possession and use of, and attitudes toward, ICTs. The typology defines 10 groups, including those who have “a kind of ‘tech-gadget’ remorse,” according to John B. Horrigan, Associate Director at the Pew Internet Project and author of the report.
Other groups highly prize the things that information technologies do for them, even if they don’t adopt every Web 2.0 application for creative expression. And some are deeply involved in everything from blogging to sharing creations online or remixing digital content.
The Typology’s 10 Groups
Four groups of information technology users occupy the elite end of the spectrum; collectively, 80% of users in these four groups have high-speed internet at home, roughly twice the national average:
- Omnivores (8%): They have the most information gadgets and services, which they use voraciously to participate in cyberspace, express themselves online, and engage in a range of Web 2.0 activities. Most in this group are men in their mid-to-late twenties.
- Connectors (7%): Between featured-packed cell phones and frequent online use, they connect to people and manage digital content using ICTs – with high levels of satisfaction about how ICTs let them work with community groups and pursue hobbies.
- Lackluster Veterans (8%): They are frequent users of the internet and less avid about cell phones. They are not thrilled with ICT-enabled connectivity and don’t see them as tools for additional productivity. They were among the internet’s early adopters.
- Productivity Enhancers (8%): They have strongly positive views about how technology lets them keep up with others, do their jobs, and learn new things. They are frequent and happy ICT users whose main focus is personal and professional communication.
Two groups make up the middle range of technology users:
- Mobile Centrics (10%): They fully embrace the functionality of their cell phones. They use the internet, but not often, and like how ICTs connect them to others. 37% have high-speed internet connections at home. The group contains a large share of African Americans.
- Connected but Hassled (10%): They have invested in a lot of technology (80% have broadband at home), but they find the connectivity intrusive and information something of a burden.
Â Some 49% of all Americans have relatively few technology assets, and they make up the final four groups of the typology. Just 14% of members of the first three listed have broadband at home:
- Â Inexperienced Experimenters (8%): They occasionally take advantage of interactivity, but if they had more experience and connectivity they might do more with ICTs. They are late adopters of the internet. Few have high-speed connections at home.
- Light but Satisfied (15%): They have some technology, but it does not play a central role in their daily lives. They are satisfied with what ICTs do for them. They like how information technology makes them more available to others and helps them learn new things.
- Indifferents (11%): Despite having cell phones or online access, these users use ICTs only intermittently and find connectivity annoying. Few would miss a beat if they had to give these things up.
- Off the Network (15%): Those with neither cell phones nor internet connectivity tend to be older adults. A few of them have computers or digital cameras, but they are satsified with old media.
The data for the Pew Internet Project’s typology of ICT users was gathered through telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates between February 15 and April 6, 2006, among a sample of 4,001 adults, aged 18 and older. The sample has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.