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Internet, social media use and device ownership have reached near-saturation levels


The big picture: As mobile device ownership plateaus, the number of people that own or use desktop and laptop computers has fallen slightly. The trusty PC isn’t going away anytime soon, mind you, but it’s no longer the only way to reliably access the treasure trove of data that is the Internet.

Following years of unprecedented growth, use of the Internet and social media and ownership of the devices that provide access to them have largely leveled out according to a new data analysis from Pew Research Center.

Since 2016, the number of US adults that own or use a cellphone / smartphone remained the same at 95 percent and 77 percent, respectively. The same can be said for social media users as 69 percent of respondents said they used the tech in both 2016 and 2018.

Internet usage climbed a single percentage point between the two years while desktop / laptop ownership actually fell from 78 percent in 2016 to 73 percent this year.

Pew said one of the contributing factors behind the slow growth of basic technologies as of late is the simple fact that parts of the population have reached near-saturation levels. In other words, there just aren’t that many non-users left.

Those that do exist, however, cite a variety of factors for their non-use. In a 2015 survey of non-broadband users, for example, 43 percent said they couldn’t afford the service or a device to use it. Six in 10 Americans in rural areas surveyed earlier this year said access to high-speed Internet was a problem in their region while 34 percent of non-Internet users in a 2013 survey simply said they had no interest in going online or didn’t believe the web was relevant to their lives.



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