Internet and Social Media Use in U.S. Hasn’t Grown Since 2016, Report Says

Social Media and Internet Use Statistics in America Haven't Grown Since 2016

After years of growth, a new analysis of Pew Research Center data has revealed internet, social media use, and device ownership in the U.S. have plateaued.

The report points out some segments have achieved near saturation points, which limits any more growth in the country. On the other hand, there are some segments which are still on the wrong side of the digital divide and not fully participating in what these technologies offer.

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Social Media and Internet Use Statistics in America Haven't Grown Since 2016

This data is extremely important for small businesses on digital platforms who serve their communities. By identifying what technologies their population uses or doesn’t use, owners can fine-tune their marketing efforts to reach more people.

Paul Hitlin, senior researcher focusing on internet, science, and technology at Pew Research Center, who authored the report on the organization’s site points out a specific data point which highlights the need to know how people communicate.

Hitlin says, “While many long-standing measures of technology adoption have steadied the past two years, the ways that people get connected and use digital platforms are constantly shifting and evolving.”

He adds, “Pew Research Center surveys have shown that the number of people who are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone but do not have traditional home broadband service – has grown from 12% in 2016 to 20% this year.”

For a small business in this type of community optimizing their website to be mobile friendly can deliver better engagement and higher conversion rates.

Here is how some of the data breaks down according to internet, social media, and device ownership.

Internet Use Statistics

The Pew Research Center started tracking internet usage by Americans in early 2000. At that time half of all adults were already online, and the number has now jumped to nine-in-ten American adults.

Young Americans between 18-29 years of age have the highest user rate at 98%. This is followed by those who are 30-49 at 97%, 50-64 at 87%, and 65+ at 66%.

When it comes to race there is little difference between whites, blacks, and Hispanics in 2018. This is also the case for gender.

The disparities start to show up when the data is compared based on income and education. Internet usage for those making less than $30K is at 81%, while people with income over $75K had a 98% rate.

The gap is much higher for those with less than a high school diploma and college graduates, which has a 32 percentage point difference. College graduates enjoy 97% and having less than high school graduation meant only 65% were online.

Social Media

The high growth rate in social media was part of a report in 2015, when the center said it was 10 times higher than in 2005. This in great contrast to what has taken place in those three years and especially in 2018.

The gaps in this segment are not as dramatic as internet usage, but they are still there. There are differences of less than 20% across race, gender, income, and education.

The biggest difference is the group of users who are over 65 years old. Only 34% of them use social media compared to 88% of those 18 to 29 years of age.

Device Ownership

Mobile phone ownership is divided into two segments, cellphones and smartphones. Ninety-five percent of Americans have a cellphone of some kind while it is only 77% for smartphones.

When it comes to smartphones alone, again the gap is not that big between gender and race. But there is a considerable difference with age, income, and education.

The gap is especially high in the education data as only 57% those with less than high school graduation had a smartphone compared to 91% for a college graduate.

As to desktop/laptop computer ownership, the rate is at 73% for all Americans, with tablet computers at 53%.

You can get additional information on this report from the Pew Research Center data Fact Sheets page here.

Images via: Pew Research Center 1 Comment ▼

Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.

One Reaction
  1. This is because the majority is already using it. The way it is used keeps evolving over time.

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