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Waiting for the Net to fizzle? Don’t

Submitted by on Wednesday, 17 June 2009 No Comment
Been sitting back on your haunches and dismissing this whole online thing as a preoccupation of the kids, the techies and the well-heeled?

You might want to stand up so you can get a clearer look at what's really going on.

In the past  year, one of the biggest growth segments for broadband access was senior citizens. According to research the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released Wednesday, broadband usage among those 65 and older grew from 9 percent in May 2008 to 30 percent in April, 2009.

Oh, but that's if they can afford it, you might scoff.

Stand a little straighter and look again.

People living in households earning $20,000 or less a year saw broadband adoption grow from 25 percent to 35 percent in that same time period, Pew reports. In households with incomes from $20,000 to $30,000, growth was 42 percent to 53 percent.

Among the 79 percent of adults in the country who describe themselves as Internet users - including 72 percent with access at home - 63 percent have broadband access.

In many instances, they're picking broadband over other services. Particularly among the lowest-income households, adults were more likely to eliminate a land line, trim a cell phone package or cut the cable bill before they'd give up high speed.

That's in part because of the massive migration of job-search and unemployment tools to online. Even entry-level retail work these days often requires an online application.

So what does that mean for you, haunch-sitting honcho who hasn't dived into the digital era?

It means that every day you're missing access to more and more of the population - people who go online to find out what's going on in their communities, to communicate with doctors or government officials, to share their views with others, according to Pew.

It means you should stop dismissing text messaging and microblogging services such as Twitter and FriendFeed and figure out how to make them work for you.

It means you should focus more on finding new ways to get people through your door instead of relying on what's worked for the past 20 years. The old methods will continue to work for a little longer, albeit to a lesser degree than in the past.

The change is not coming. It's here already.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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