Or anything online, for that matter.
The Census Bureau’s 2011 survey of internet use found Mississippi to be the least-wired state in the country. More than half of Mississippians had no home internet access, and 41 percent had no way to get online at all. Only two in 10 Mississippians were “highly connected” — internet both inside and outside the home on multiple devices.
Mississippi’s “disconnectivity” can be explained by several factors:
- Large rural population. Nationwide, internet adoption is 10 percentage points lower in rural areas than urban or suburban areas. Mississippi is one of four states with a majority of population living outside of communities with more than 2,500 residents.
- Low per capita income. Households earning less than $30,000 a year are 30 percentage points less likely to have home internet access than those with incomes above $50,000. Mississippi’s median income is only $36,919, the lowest in the country.
- Limited education. People with college degrees are 32 points more likely to have home internet access than those with high school diplomas. Only 20.7 percent of Mississippians hold a college degree, the second lowest rate in the country.
So why does this digital divide matter? Because it threatens to set Mississippi further behind the rest of the country economically and socially.
According to a Pew Research Internet Project survey, more than 60 percent of Americans think that not having home internet access makes it tougher to hear about job opportunities or acquire career skills. Majorities feel that it is a disadvantage in getting health information, learning about ways to improve and enrich their lives, using government services, and keeping up with news and their communities.
Put simply: If any state needs the opportunities that the internet provides, it’s Mississippi.