There’s still a digital divide between rural and urban/suburban

Pew Research reports

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of rural Americans say they have a broadband internet connection at home, up from about a third (35%) in 2007, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in fall 2016. Rural Americans are now 10 percentage points less likely than Americans overall to have home broadband; in 2007, there was a 16-point gap between rural Americans (35%) and all U.S. adults (51%) on this question.

Mobile technology use among rural adults has also risen rapidly, with the share of those owning smartphones and tablets increasing sharply. Ownership of desktop or laptop computers, by contrast, has only slightly risen since 2008.

I was especially surprised at how few people (rural and non-rural) have only one device…

Rural adults also are less likely to have multiple devices that enable them to go online: About three-in-ten adults who live in rural communities (29%) report that they own a desktop or laptop computer, a smartphone, a home broadband connection and a tablet computer; by contrast, 40% of urban adults and 42% of suburban adults own all four of these devices.

I can’t imagine driving to a new place without Google map. I can’t image getting my work done without a laptop. Are these people missing out on mobile apps, are they trying to get “work” done on a smartphone (by work I mean writing reports, job applications, taxes, notes to teachers!) or are there tasks that I do daily that these folks aren’t doing? To be fair – not everyone needs Spotify when they walk but there are a host of apps (and old school computer applications) that make my life easier –that save me time and money.

But sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and Pew’s final remark gives a glimpse at that…

Despite lower levels of technology ownership and use, only 36% of rural adults say that the government should provide subsidies to help low-income Americans purchase high-speed home internet service, compared with 50% of urban residents and 43% of suburbanites, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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