Pew Internet has released a report finding that income is the strongest predictor of whether, how often, and in what ways Americans use the web. The report adds nuance–and a few surprises–to existing research on America’s digital divide. It even suggests the existence of a tipping point, where Internet use takes off at a certain income level.
A lot of this makes intuitive sense. After all, laptops and broadband cost money. But the Pew report finds that even among groups that own the necessary technology, less wealth equates to less (and less varied) Internet usage.
“Many of these households are not impoverished,” the report’s author, Jim Jansen, tells Fast Company. “Many do have the technology, but for variety of reasons do not engage in certain activities as frequently.” It’s predominantly the wealthy who take advantage of the benefits offered by the Web–even though it’s the less wealthy who could use them more.