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Exposing the Computer Illiteracy in America

Roughly one-fifth of all U.S. heads-of-household have never used e-mail, according to National Technology Scan, a forthcoming market study from Parks Associates.

This annual phone survey of U.S. households found 20 million households are without Internet access, approximately 18 percent of all U.S. households.

"Nearly one out of three household heads has never used a computer to create a document," said John Barrett, director, research, Parks Associates. "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."

Age and education are factors in this divide. One-half of those who have never used e-mail are over 65, and 56 percent had no schooling beyond high school.

National Technology Scan found just seven percent of the 20 million "disconnected" homes plan to subscribe to an Internet service within the next 12 months. Still, the study reports a steady decline in the number of disconnected households when comparing findings with previous years.

National Technology Scan reported at year-end 2006 that 29 percent of all U.S. households (31 million homes) did not have Internet access, citing low perceived value of the Internet.

"Internet connections have slowly increased in U.S. households, but getting the disconnected minority online will continue to be difficult," Barrett said.

"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."

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