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Data Central Blog

First Look: Internet Use in 2015

March 21, 2016

As the Obama Administration continues to focus on expanding broadband access and adoption, NTIA released new data today that shows that some of the demographic groups that have historically lagged behind in using the Internet—such as senior citizens, minorities, and Americans with lower levels of educational attainment—are making big strides.

Particularly promising, Internet use increased significantly among children and older Americans between 2013 and 2015. Children between the ages of 3 and 14 became substantially more likely to go online, as Internet use among this group increased from 56 percent in 2013 to 66 percent in 2015, and Internet use among those aged 65 or older increased from 51 percent to 56 percent during the same period. In contrast, usage remained largely unchanged among those who were previously most likely to go online, with 83 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 44 reporting Internet use in both 2013 and 2015.

The latest data comes from the Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), which included nearly 53,000 households and was conducted for NTIA by the U.S. Census Bureau in July 2015. The large sample size provides a detailed picture of where, why and how Americans go online.

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Data Preview: What's New in the July 2015 CPS Computer and Internet Use Supplement

January 13, 2016

In July 2015, NTIA commissioned the Census Bureau to conduct the latest Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). NTIA uses this survey to help understand why, where, and how Americans use the Internet, as well as what barriers stand in the way of effective Internet use.

We are awaiting the results of the latest survey, which has been significantly redesigned to fit the changing technological landscape.  NTIA has developed a more person-centric survey instrument, as opposed to household-centric questioning, that gathers data on the range of devices people use, the places they are used, and how they are used.

We increased the flexibility of the survey instrument by making it easier to add device, location, and online activity categories while preserving our ability to track changes over time. We’re taking advantage of the new structure by asking Americans about wearable devices for the first time, as well as whether they use the Internet to interact with household equipment, like a connected thermostat or security system.

We also reserved space in the survey to ask questions about policy issues. In 2015, we gathered data on privacy and security by asking how frequently households have been affected by data breaches, whether privacy or security concerns have hampered online activities, and what people are most worried about when it comes to online privacy and security risks.

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Majority of Americans Use Multiple Internet-connected Devices, Data Shows

December 7, 2015

For many Americans, the days of connecting to the Internet solely through a stationary desktop computer are over. Going online now means shopping on a tablet, using a PlayStation to watch movies, or checking email on a smartphone.

In just a two-year span, between 2011 and 2013, Americans significantly shifted their Internet usage habits, moving toward more mobile Internet use and increasing the range of devices they use to connect, according to data collected in July 2013 as part of NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. A majority of Americans — 52 percent — used two or more Internet-connected devices, the data shows. That’s up from 41 percent in July 2011. Americans are using a wide variety of devices to access the Internet, including tablets, laptops, mobile phones, and TV-connected boxes such as gaming consoles or streaming video players.

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Language and Citizenship May Contribute to Low Internet Use Among Hispanics

November 17, 2015

NTIA has long noted disparities in Internet use based on race and ethnicity, among other demographics. While the United States has made great strides in recent years to close the digital divide, the latest NTIA data on Internet and computer use suggest that gaps remain among certain groups.

While 75.4 percent of White non-Hispanics, 75.3 percent of Asian American non-Hispanics, and 64 percent of African American non-Hispanics reported using the Internet in 2013, only 61 percent of Hispanics were online. Historically, Hispanics have had lower levels of Internet use than their peers, and while the gap has narrowed to some extent, Hispanics consistently reported the lowest levels of Internet use of any racial or ethnic group. According to Census Bureau estimates, the Hispanic population is young and growing quickly, underscoring the need to address digital inclusion challenges. The Hispanic population has grown from 14.5 million in 1980 to 55.4 million as of 2014. And the median age among Hispanics in 2014 was 29—14 years younger than non-Hispanic Whites and four years younger than African Americans. Language barriers and citizenship considerations may be associated with differing levels of Internet use and help explain this dimension of the digital divide.

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New NTIA Data Show Enduring Barriers to Closing the Digital Divide, Achieving Digital Equity

May 11, 2022

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted what many already knew: high-speed internet access is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. As workplaces and schools shifted to online environments, families that lacked access to affordable, reliable, high-speed connections, appropriate devices, and digital skills fell further behind.

Newly released data from the 2021 NTIA Internet Use Survey show that historically less-connected communities used the Internet and connected devices in greater numbers than they did two years ago. Despite that progress, the substantial disparities that NTIA has tracked for decades continued to be evident, highlighting the urgent need to work toward digital equity in the United States.

The 2021 NTIA Internet Use Survey represents the first comprehensive federal data on how Internet use in America has evolved since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results make clear that our nation faces substantial challenges to achieving full digital equity. Over the coming months, NTIA will continue to analyze the data to help inform the important policy choices that will be made as part of the new high-speed internet programs in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Digital Equity Act, in particular, references the Internet Use Survey as a key data point to help determine award amounts for the $1.5 billion State Digital Equity Planning and Capacity Grant Programs.

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Introducing NTIA Data Central

October 28, 2015

Last November marked the 20th anniversary of NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). This important data collection has documented profound technological transformations in American life, from the explosion of Internet use to the proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.  In partnership with the Census Bureau, we have cataloged detailed trends over time, gathering data on over 1.3 million Americans through over 600,000 household interviews.

As we witness the continued evolution of the Internet – including the connection of wristwatches, thermostats, and many other everyday objects to the Internet – comprehensive data on Americans’ use of technology will only become more important. NTIA has revamped everything from the questions we ask to the ways in which we report results so that the CPS Supplement continues to be a relevant and valuable resource. This revamp includes our new NTIA Data Central, an easy-to-use source for locating statistics and charting trends.

The CPS Supplement has been a vital resource for policymakers since its inception. We want to make those data even more valuable to researchers and policy makers through NTIA Data Central.

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