As of December 2007, 75% of American adults use the internet, 75% own a cell phone, and 54% have a high-speed internet connection at home (download charts here). Seniors, those with less education, and those living with a disability or chronic disease lag behind other adults on all three fronts. Further, a more in-depth survey found that only 8% of American adults are living a digital life and indeed, “half of all American adults are only occasional users of modern information gadgetry.” (Take the quiz to see where you fit.)
I think there are significant health implications to the degrees of technology access in the U.S.
When you hear the phrase “2.0” you are probably hearing someone talk about an online world that is familiar to “Elite Tech Users,” who make up 31% of all adults. They have lots of gadgets and they like them. For them, the internet has changed from being slow and stationary to being fast and mobile. Elites don’t just surf through the online world, they shape it.
Web 2.0 is less familiar ground for “Middle-of-the-road Tech Users” and those with “Few Tech Assets.” They might benefit from the resources made possible by the participatory internet, but they may not have the skills or the desire to do so. How will these people fare if the best health care is only available to those who are willing to expand beyond traditional health information sources like doctor’s appointments and print media?