Characteristics and Choices of Internet Users

GAO-01-345: Published: Feb 16, 2001. Publicly Released: Feb 22, 2001.

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Stanley J. Czerwinski
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Americans' use of the Internet has grown dramatically during the last few years. Nationally, more than half of all households have a computer and more than 80 percent of those households have access to the Internet. Yet, during the last few years, even as Internet usage has continued to expand, concerns have arisen about whether access to the Internet and other advanced telecommunications services is limited for Americans in lower socioeconomic classes or who live in rural areas. GAO found that Internet users are more likely to be white and well-educated and have higher-than-average household incomes. There is no noticeable difference between the genders when it comes to Internet usage. GAO also found that the availability of some services is limited by location. Some of this information points to the existence of the "digital divide," but the evidence is not clear. It is important, however, to ensure that the differences in Internet availability do not adversely affect existing societal divisions.

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