Hawaii's Internet access high, but usage among nation's lowest


POSTED: Friday, February 19, 2010

One in three people in Hawaii older than 3 did not go online last year, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report on Internet usage.

Yet, nearly four out of five people in Hawaii, 78.9 percent, have Internet access in the home, putting Hawaii among the top 10 states for home Internet accessibility.

The report says only 67.4 percent of island residents said they actually used the Internet, the 16th-lowest percentage in the nation.

“;I can't wrap my brain around that,”; said Burt Lum, host of the Hawaii Public Radio show “;Bytemark Cafe,”; who said he is constantly on the Internet.

Part of the reason for the lower Internet usage might be Hawaii's older population. The census survey showed only 41.5 percent of those 65 and older nationwide used the Internet.

The highest Internet usage is by those 18 to 34 years old at 79.9 percent, followed by adults 35 to 44 years old at 78.5 percent. About 61.6 percent of children between ages 3 and 17 reported Internet usage.





        States with the most home Internet access:

        » New Hampshire: 84.7%

        » Alaska: 83.4%

        » Utah: 83.1%

        » New Jersey: 83%

        » Connecticut: 82%

        » Massachusetts and » Washington: 81.7%

        » Oregon: 80.6%

        » Hawaii: 78.9%

        » Wisconsin: 78.8%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


The report also showed a connection between education levels and Internet usage, with only 41 percent Internet use by those who did not complete high school, compared with 93 percent of college graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher.

David Lassner, University of Hawaii vice president for information technology, said it is possible that seniors living in multigenerational homes have access to the Internet but do not use it.

But Lassner worries that educational levels in Hawaii have been declining, and that might also account for some of the low Internet usage here.

“;These are people who are not engaging in 21st-century practices,”; he said.

“;There may be a digital divide occurring,”; Lum said, noting that the state also has a high percentage of service workers who do not access the Internet at work.

Ethnic differences likely do not account for the low Internet usage here. Nationally, Asians reported the highest Internet usage at 85.5 percent. Hispanics had the lowest Internet usage with 63.9 percent, according to the census.

“;The whole idea behind marketing and using the Internet is becoming more prevalent,”; Lum said.

But Lum said the report also suggests that businesses that only use the Internet for marketing are not reaching a significant segment of the population.