Six in Ten American Adults Online Wirelessly

According to the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the Internet by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for the Pew American Internet and American Life Project, six-in-ten American adults are now wireless internet users, and mobile data applications have grown more popular over the last year.

The definition of a wireless internet user includes the following activities:

  • Going online with a laptop using a wi-fi connection or mobile broadband card. Roughly half of all adults (47%) go online in this way, up from the 39% who did so at a similar point in 2009.
  • Use of the internet, email or instant messaging on a cell phone. Two-in-five adults (40%) do at least one of these using a mobile device, an increase from the 32% of adults who did so in 2009.

Taken together, 59% of American adults now go online wirelessly using either a laptop or cell phone, an increase over the 51% of Americans who did so at a similar point in 2009.

Cell phone ownership has remained stable over the last year, but users are taking advantage of a much wider range of their phones' capabilities compared with a similar point in 2009. Of the mobile data applications asked about in both 2009 and 2010, all showed statistically significant year-to-year growth.

This year seven additional cell phone activities were included. Among all cell phone owners:

  • 54% have used their mobile device to send someone a photo or video.
  • 23% have accessed a social networking site using their phone.
  • 20% have used their phone to watch a video.
  • 15% have posted a photo or video online.
  • 11% have purchased a product using their phone.
  • 11% have made a charitable donation by text message.
  • 10% have used their mobile phone to access a status update service such as Twitter.

Non-Voice Cell Phone Data Applications (% of cell phone users)

 

% of Cell Phone Users

By Age 2010 (% of owners / group)

Non-Voice Use Of Cell Phone

May 2010

April 2009

18-29

30-49

50-64

≥ 65

Own a cell phone

 

 

90%

88%

82%

57%

Take a picture

76%

66%

93

83

67

34

Post photo or video on line

 

 

33

15

5

2

Send or receive text messages

72

65

95

82

57

19

Send or receive instant messages

30

20

46

36

17

10

Play game

34

27

60

37

17

9

Send or receive mail

34

25

52

37

22

11

Access Internet

38

23

65

43

18

10

Play music

33

21

64

36

13

6

Record a video

34

19

60

39

14

5

Watch a video on phone

20

 

40

20

6

4

Make a purchase w/phone

 

 

20

11

4

5

Source: Pew Research Center, May/July 2010

Although young adults have the highest levels of mobile data application use among all age groups, utilization of these services is growing fast among 30-to-49 year olds. Compared with a similar point in 2009, cell owners ages 30 to 49 are significantly more likely to use a range of mobile data applications on a handheld device.

  • The mobile data applications with the largest year-to-year increases among the 30-to-49 year old cohort include:
  • Taking pictures (83% of 30-to-49 year old cell owners now do this, a 12-point increase from 2009)
  • Recording videos (39% do this now, an 18-point increase from 2009)
  • Playing music (36% do this now, a 15-point increase)
  • Using instant messaging (35% now do this, a 14-point increase);
  • Accessing the internet (43% now do this, a 12-point increase compared with 2009)

Continuing a trend first identified in 2009, minority Americans lead the way when it comes to mobile access, especially mobile access using handheld devices. 64% of African-Americans (64%) and 63% of Latinos are wireless internet users, and minority Americans are significantly more likely to own a cell phone than are their white counterparts (87% of blacks and Hispanics own a cell phone, compared with 80% of whites). Additionally, black and Latino cell phone owners take advantage of a much wider array of their phones' data functions compared to white cell phone owners.

To read more from the report, please visit Pew here, or to access the PDF file, please go here.

 

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1 comment about "Six in Ten American Adults Online Wirelessly".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , July 21, 2010 at 10:21 a.m.

    According to this study, it seems that most people over 65 only watch the grass grow. Do these numbers represent 65-75, 65-80 or 65-100 ? Do they include people in alternative living homes, alzheimer/dementia patients, etc? Someone needs to hang out at my local Apple store. Usage and needed work volume may change, but active agers are using.