Ten kinds of tech users: Pew/Internet survey

73% of adult Americans are internet users and 73% use a cell phone.

About 15% of Americans neither go online nor have a cell phone.

Half (52%) of Americans have broadband access either at home or work; 42% have broadband at home.

These findings come from the Pew/Internet report, “A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users” (7 May ).

The Pew Internet & American Life project classified Americans into different groups of technology users, ranged along three dimensions of relationships to information and communications technology (ICT): their ICT assets, their actions, and their attitudes.

The survey found that Americans sort into 10 distinct groups of users of ICT.

“Elite” tech users constitute of 31% of American adults and include four subgroups. “Middle-of-the-road” tech users constitute 20% of American adults and include 2 subgroups; and the “low tech” group constitutes 49% of American adults and includes 3 subgroups.

The survey found differences in use and attitudes among people even when they own the same devices. For example, the four subgroups making up the “elite” group of tech users display significant differences in the extent of their participation in shaping cyberspace (i.e., creating “user-generated content) and how central they believe information technology is to various facets of their lives.

The four subgroups that collectively make up the low tech users come to 49% of the general population. They are the heaviest users of old media, such as radio and TV, but do not have an inclination (or perhaps the means) to try new information and communication technology. This group is the oldest—the median age is 64, and has the lowest reported levels of household income.

There is an intra-generational pattern to information technology adoption. Not all people in or near their 30 got online at the same time, and the same is true when looking at people in their 40s and 50s. Each age cohort appears to have its technology champions who adopt early, with others then following.


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