There’s no question that the Internet has grown to rule our lives in the last two decades. In 1997, 18% of U.S. households had an Internet connection, compared with 79.9% in 2014. With our ever-increasing ability to access the Internet in recent years, it might be hard to imagine life without the web.
However, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that some U.S. states are significantly behind the times when it comes to high-speed Internet usage, and there are some interesting trends on where the Internet droughts exist across the country. In general, southeast and central states have a lower access to Internet than the northern, eastern, and western states. Mississippi has the lowest Internet access in the country with 62.3 percent of people living in a household with a high-speed Internet connection, while New Hampshire has the highest access at 85.7 percent.
The question is, does having more Internet within a state lead to fewer outdoor pursuits? We compared the Internet usage census data with a previous Retale study on the most and least outdoorsy states to see if those states with more Internet access were less inclined to engage in outdoor activities. Surprisingly, we found out that the opposite was true: Central and southern states where Internet access was commonly lower, also ranked lower in outdoor leisure, while east and west coast states were both best connected and the most outdoorsy.
Internet usage by state
Outdoor activity by state
States that scored lowest on the outdoor ranking and lowest on Internet usage included Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, while those states which topped the lists in both Internet usage and outdoor fun included California, Washington, and New York. There is a definite correlation between the dense yellow areas across the southeast and central U.S., denoting low Internet usage, and the densely yellow parts of the second map, denoting low levels of outdoor activity.
The same can be said of the green portions of the west and east coasts on both maps. It should be noted that Retale’s Outdoorsy States study includes only a limited number of data sets. There are many different variables that make a state more “outdoorsy” so the study shouldn’t be taken as a concrete ranking. We created our own list using a variety of data that was available to us, and compared it with census data on Internet usage by state for this study.