The information technology revolution may not be quite as widespread as some people think. A new report indicates that 49 percent of Americans use information and communication technology tools only occasionally. The study, done by researchers at the Pew Internet and American Life Project in Washington, D.C., tracked daily internet usage among 4,001 Americans, age 18 or older, and found that while 85 percent own communication technology tools, only 8 percent take full advantage of their connectivity and use it as a tool for self expression and interactivity.
The researchers found that there is a great deal of variation in the level of technologies that people have, how they use those technologies, and what they think of them. The report breaks down the respondents into 10 different groups based on their responses.
The first group, termed Omnivores, makes up 8 percent of respondents and has the most information gadgets and services. Omnivores, who were found to be overwhelmingly male and in their mid-to-late twenties, frequently express themselves online and engage in activities such as blogging, sharing creations, or remixing digital content.
Another 8 percent of respondents were labeled Lackluster Veterans, and while they may have been early adopters and frequent users of the Internet, they are not the type to use Web applications for creative expression or update their gadgets every time a new model arrives on the market. But this group does rely on technology for personal and professional connectivity. "Some of the earliest adopters of the Internet and cell phones still love the things that drew them into this new universe a decade or more ago, and they have happily evolved in their use since then," John B. Horrigan, Associate Director at the Pew Internet Project and author of the report, said in a statement. "They don't necessarily have a blog or tag photos on a Flickr account, but they say it would be very hard to give up any of their digital goodies."
While the majority of respondents are connected to the Internet, 10 percent say they feel burdened by the abundance of information on the Web and often find technology to be somewhat of a hassle in their daily lives. This Connected But Hassled group is typically 46 years old and has been using the Internet for about 7 years. A majority -- 59 percent -- of the group are well-educated women whose household income is above average. Eighty percent of the group is white.
Horrigan says many of the respondents in this group have "tech-gadget remorse," meaning "they have more than their fair share of digital appliances, but they aren't all that satisfied with the flood of information or pervasive connectivity that comes along with these communication goods and services."
By contrast, 15 percent of respondents constitute another group: Light But Satisfied. This group has only limited access to technology but reports being content with what it has. Another 11 percent of respondents are indifferent to technology and said it would not matter to them if they didn't have online access. A full 15 percent of respondents reported not being connected at all. This Off the Network group mostly consists of older adults, with a median age of 64 and the lowest household income of all the groups. Members of this group use old media such as television and radio the most; 82 percent said they watch TV every day.