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American Web, social media, device use plateaus: Pew study Pixabay

The number of Americans who use the Internet or social media, and the number who own digital devices, has shown little or no growth over the past two years, a survey by the Pew Research Centre has found.

The organisation said that the number of adults who used the Internet or social media, owned a smartphone or a tablet computer in 2018 was more or less the same as in 2016.

Broadband use was at 65%, compared to the figure of 67% in 2015. And in the case of desktop or laptop computers, there had been a drop from 78% in 2016 to 73% this year.

The Pew study said this could be due to the fact that sections of the population had reached near-saturation levels of technology adoption.

"Put simply, in some instances there just aren’t many non-users left," wrote Paul Hitlin, a senior researcher. "For example, nine in ten or more 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."

He pointed out that in some cases, people lacked the necessary finances to take advantage of new technologies. Others said they did not see any value in learning new technologies.

Apart from this, some groups, notably older Americans, lacked the confidence to use digital devices to do online tasks. Many had health issues that prevented them from using devices online.

Said Hitlin, "Ultimately, the method for tracking certain adoption metrics may need to change. A canvassing of experts by the Centre suggested that it might make sense in the near future to stop asking people if they 'use the Internet' because it will be so ubiquitous.

"Those experts predicted that the Internet would become 'like electricity' – almost invisible to users, yet more deeply embedded in their lives."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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