Fueled by an increase in the number of minorities, women and lower-income families with access to the Web, more than half of all adults in the United States are now connected, according to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
The study, released this week, surveyed nearly 3,500 respondents. It found that the number of adults going online during the second half of last year jumped to 104 million, compared with 88 million during the first six months of the year.
Overall, the study estimated that 56 percent of U.S. adults had access to the Internet during the final six months of last year, compared with 47 percent during the first half of the year.
The greatest gains were seen among groups that have historically been underrepresented on the Web — women, African-Americans and Hispanics living in households where the average annual income ranged from $30,000 to $50,000.
Data also showed that 82 percent of households with incomes exceeding $75,000 had online access, while only 38 percent of homes with incomes of less than $30,000 did.
The study also detailed how nearly 75 percent of all children older than 12 now have Web access, as do 29 percent of youths younger than 12.
The report concluded that women now make up more than half the total online population and that three-quarters of all young adults between ages 18 and 29 were connected, compared with only 15 percent of adults older than 65.