What is the internet? And who is an internet user? The questions may seem straightforward, but more than a decade of research in the United States and abroad suggests that some people who use the internet may not be aware that they’re doing so. Results from recent Pew Research Center surveys in the U.S. and 11 emerging economies show that confusion about what the internet is stems from two different – but related – sources.
Sizable shares in some countries report owning smartphones but not using 'the internet'First, many people who use smartphones are unaware that the apps and browsers on their devices involve using the internet. In the Center’s survey of emerging economies, as many as 38% of those who say they do not use the internet also indicate that they have a phone that connects to the internet. Due to differences in internet use across these countries, this group represents as much as 14% of the total adult population in South Africa, or as little as 3% in Venezuela.