CARI: Center for Applied Rural Innovation


Date of this Version



Center for Applied Rural Innovation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, July 2011. Center Research Report 11-1. 36 p.


Copyright 2011, Center for Applied Rural Innovation. Used by permission. Also available at:


Over the past decade, people have increasingly used the Internet for shopping, social networking, government services, learning and education. Are rural Nebraskans using the Internet for these applications? What do they believe are the benefits and drawbacks of these applications? In addition, people are increasingly using mobile devices to connect to the Internet. Are rural Nebraskans using their cell phones to access the Internet? This paper provides a detailed analysis of these questions.

This report details 2,490 responses to the 2011 Nebraska Rural Poll, the sixteenth annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions about technology. For all questions, comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, that is, comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:

-Most rural Nebraskans use the Internet or email from home.

-Most rural Nebraskans have used the Internet for research, for health information, for purchasing a product, for watching a video and for social networking.

-Most rural Nebraskans have positive opinions about shopping online. However, most rural Nebraskans also have some concerns about shopping online.

-In general, rural Nebraskans have positive opinions about online learning and education. However, when asked about the quality of information found online, opinions were mixed.

-Most rural Nebraskans agree that the Internet is useful for researching online government services, downloading government forms and distributing information on public health, food safety, or national security issues. However, persons that have completed these transactions online have positive opinions about them.

-Most rural Nebraskans express positive sentiments about some aspects of online social networks – believing they are a good way to keep up with friends and family, they offer support to people who are isolated by geography or disability, and they can be a source of information and advice.

-Over 90 percent of rural Nebraskans have a cell phone and many use it to access the Internet.

-Persons living in or near larger communities, South Central region residents, persons with higher household incomes, younger persons, females, persons with higher education levels and persons with healthcare support or public safety occupations are the groups most likely to access the Internet with their cell phone.