The Pew Research Center has released a new study showing that US internet usage patterns have shifted in recent years, with smartphones and social networks fueling a change across numerous demographic groups. Using a study from 2000 as a baseline, the new survey — conducted last year — found that while only 78 percent of Americans use the internet regularly, traditional differentiators such as gender and race have all but disappeared, driven in large part to significant smartphone adoption. Instead, age and income levels have emerged as the key metrics, with just 41 percent of those over 65 responding that they use the internet. By way of comparison, 74 percent of those between 50 and 64 replied in the positive, with the 18-to-29 age bracket hitting 94 percent.
Even the older demographic has seen an incredible uptake from the 2000 figures, however, when just 12 percent reported internet usage. Social networks appear to have been a major force in the increased adoption, with a 2010 study showing that the use of social networking sites by those 74 years of age or older had quadrupled since 2008 — the fastest growth seen by any age segment.