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Survey: 31% of US “almost constantly” online

March 29, 2021

As smartphones and other internet-connected devices have become more widespread, 31 per cent of US adults now report that they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21 per cent in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Overall, 85 per cent of Americans say they go online on a daily basis. That figure includes the 31 per cent who report going online almost constantly, as well as 48 per cent who say they go online several times a day and 6 per cent who go online about once a day.

Some 8 per cent go online several times a week or less often, while 7 per cent of adults say they do not use the internet at all.

Adults under the age of 50 are at the vanguard of the constantly connected: 44 per cent of 18- to 49-year-olds say they go online almost constantly. By comparison, just 22 per cent of those ages 50 to 64 and even smaller shares of those 65 and older (8 per cent) say they use the internet at this frequency.

While the share of 18- to 29-year-olds who say they use the internet almost constantly has risen 9 percentage points since 2018, it remains unchanged since 2019. Meanwhile, the share of constantly online Americans ages 30 to 49 has risen 14 points since 2015, and the share of 50- to 64-year-olds has risen from 12 per cent in 2015 to 22 per cent in 2021. The share of Americans ages 65 and older saying this has not grown since the Center began asking this question in 2015.

Other demographic groups that report almost always going online include college-educated adults, adults who live in higher-income households and urban residents.

Some 42 per cent of adults with a college degree or more education go online almost constantly, compared with 23 per cent of adults with a high school diploma or less education. At the same time, the shares of White, Black and Hispanic adults who report using the internet almost constantly are statistically the same. Some 37 per cent of Black adults say this, while 36 per cent of Hispanic adults and 28 per cent of White adults report going online on an almost-constant basis. The share of Hispanic adults who are almost always online has risen 17 points since 2015, while there has been no growth for White and Black adults during this time period.

While 40 per cent of adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more say they use the internet almost constantly, this is true for just 27 per cent of those living in households earning less than $30,000 a year. Adults who live in urban areas are the most likely to say they go online almost constantly, compared with suburban residents and an even smaller share of those who live in rural areas.

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