A Longitudinal Examination of Internet Diffusion and Adopter Categories

Robert J. Lunn, Michael W. Suman


The examination of Internet utilization data with a series of "snapshot" cross-sectional studies (Rogers, 1995) provides an easily understood summary of how Internet usage diffused in the United States over time. Unfortunately, snapshot cross-sectional research designs can lead to under-conceptualizations with respect to the underlying Internet diffusion process. Classical literature shows us that the technology diffusion process is inherently complex, usually involving heterogeneous populations, and is correspondingly under-conceptualized through the use of single summary percent utilization figures. In this initial examination of data from the longitudinal Digital Future Project we examine how United States Internet diffusion, including attitudes, opinions, and behaviors for the same 453 subjects, varied over a seven year period (2000 - 2006). We find six distinct adoption (3), non-adoption, discontinuance, and intermittent usage patterns. We describe these adoption groups in terms of their different demographic and behavioral characteristics. We also expand on traditional Internet diffusion studies by demonstrating how amount of access (hours per week) increases as a function of time across the same respondents.


Panel Data, Internet Diffusion Patterns, Usage Rates, Change Trajectories

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS232008185