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Internet and social media has plateaued

by on02 October 2018

At least in the US

Internet, social media use and device ownership in the US have plateaued after years of growth, according to beancounters at Pew.

The Pew Research Center said that while the use of digital technology has had a long stretch of rapid growth in the United States,  the share of Americans who go online, use social media or own key devices has remained stable for two years.

The share of Americans using various technologies has stayed relatively flat since 2016.

Shares of US adults who say they use the internet, use social media, own a smartphone or own a tablet computer are all nearly identical to the shares who said so in 2016.

The share who say they have broadband internet service at home currently stands at 65 percent – nearly identical to the 67 percent who said this in a survey conducted in summer 2015.

Desktop or laptop ownership saw a small dip in the overall numbers over the last two years – from 78 percent in 2016 to 73 percent this year.

A contributing factor behind this slowing growth is that parts of the population have reached near-saturation levels of adoption of some technologies. Basically, there are no non-users left.

More than 90 percent of adults younger than 50 say they go online or own a smartphone. And a similar share of those in higher-income households have laptops or desktops.

There are noteworthy numbers of non-users of various technologies. There are Americans who would like to take advantage of new technologies are simply unable to do because they are broke.

In a 2015 survey, 43 per cent of non-broadband adopters cited cost as the primary reason they did not have broadband service at home.

In other instances, non-users say they do not see the value of learning how to use new technologies.

Older adults still face their own unique challenges when it comes to using and adopting new technologies. In a 2015 survey, 34 percent of internet users ages 65 and older said they had little to no confidence in their ability to use electronic devices to perform online tasks, while 48 per cent of older adults said the statement, “When I get a new electronic device, I usually need someone else to set it up or show me how to use it” describes them very well.

Consumer surveys show that the use of smart TVs and wearable devices has grown. Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) use digital voice assistants on smartphones or devices like Amazon Echo, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey.

A host of items collectively called “the Internet of Things” – ranging from household thermostats and security systems to “smart city” transportation systems – are also coming on the market.

Last modified on 02 October 2018
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