One in five Americans has never used e-mail

Today’s Monitor story on closing the digital divide in Africa highlights what an important role the Internet plays in the job market worldwide.

Many parents in developing countries want three things for their kids: “They want them to learn English. They want them to learn how to drive. And they want them to have computer skills,” says William Wright, who set up the Mozambique computer center that’s featured in Stephanie Hanes’s piece.

But even in the US, that last item has languished. About 20 percent of American households have no Internet access, according to a new study by the market-research firm Parks Associates.

“Nearly one out of three household heads has never used a computer to create a document,” says research director John Barrett, in a press release. “These data underscore the significant digital divide between the connected majority and the homes in the unconnected minority that rarely, if ever, use a computer.”

This telephone survey found a link between computer use and the age and education of the respondents. Half of those who never use e-mail are older than 65, and 56 percent never went to college.

The pool of “disconnected” homes has steadily dried up. In 2006, Parks’s annual study found that 29 percent of US households had no Internet access. This year, 7 percent said they plan to sign up for a Web connection within the next 12 months.

“Internet connections have slowly increased in US households, but getting the disconnected minority online will continue to be difficult,” Barrett says. “Age and economics are important factors, but the heart of the challenge is deeper. Many people just don’t see a reason to use computers and do not associate technology with the needs and demands of their daily lives.”

[Via CNET]

Also check out:
African park bridges the ‘Last Mile’ of digital divide
Turn teen texting toward better writing
Cellphones bring a :- ) to remotest Africa

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