According to an April 2009 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, the wireless router at home is the center of an untethered online
access experience for many Americans. The laptop, gaming console, or handheld device may all be connected and in use at once. And, wherever Americans can find a wireless network,
whether it is WiFi or one provided by a cell phone carrier, many are apt to take advantage of it for a tweet, text, or information nugget. Altogether, 56% of Americans said they have, at
some point, used wireless means for online access.
Accessing the internet is for many Americans now a multiplatform affair. The study report examines how Americans are accessing the internet by
wireless means using a range of devices - such as the laptop computer, the handheld device, the gaming console, or e-book reader.
Onramps and Usage Going Online Wirelessly (% of All Adult Americans)
Been Online with Wireless Connection
iPod of mp3
% who have done at least:
Source Pew Internet & American Life Survey, April 2009
- 39% of all Americans have used a laptop computer to go online wirelessly, making this the most prevalent means of wireless access
- 32% of all Americans
have gotten online with a mobile device... they have used a cell phone or other handheld device to check email, access the internet for information, or send instant
- 51% of Americans have gotten online using either laptop or mobile wireless
- 19% of Americans opt for both portable laptops on fast WiFi networks or
handheld access on slower networks from cell carriers
Use of the internet on mobile devices has grown sharply from the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2009, notes the report:
- In December 2007, 24% of Americans said they had at some point used the internet on their mobile device
- By April 2009, 32% of Americans said they had at some point
used the internet on their mobile device
- In December 2007, 11% of Americans said they had yesterday accessed the internet on their mobile
- By April 2009,
19% of Americans said they had yesterday accessed the internet on their mobile
The digital divide between African Americans and white Americans diminishes when
mobile use is taken into account, as African Americans are the most active users of the mobile internet, and their use of it is also growing the fastest:
- 48% of Africans
Americans have at one time used their mobile device to access the internet for information, emailing, or instant-messaging, half again the national average of 32%
- 29% of
African Americans use the internet on their handheld on an average day, also about half again the national average of 19%
- Compared with 2007, when 12% of African Americans used
the internet on their mobile on the average day, use of the mobile internet is up by 141%
- By a 59% to 45% margin, white Americans are more likely to go online using
a computer on a typical day than African Americans
- When mobile devices are included in the mix, the gap is cut in half; 61% of whites go online on the average day
when mobile access is included while 54% of African Americans do
Looking across a range of digital activities, some done online typically using a computer and others being
non-voice data activities on a mobile device, African American and white Americans, on average, do the same number of activities.
Mobile Content Used by Adult (18+) Mobile Device Owners on Typical Day (March-April 2009; % of Respondents in Each Group)
% Users in Each Group
Send of receive text message
Take a picture
Play a game
Send of receive email
Access the internet
Record a video
Send of receive IMs
Get map or directions
Source: PEW "Wireless Internet Use," July 2009
In 2007 and 2009, respondents were asked about ten
different non-voice data activities they might do on their cell phones: sending or receiving text messages, taking a picture, playing a game, checking email, accessing the internet,
recording video, instant messaging, playing music, getting maps or directions, or watching video. Although several activities involve using the internet on the mobile device, many (such as
taking a picture) do not.
In 2009, 69% of all adult Americans said they had ever done at least one of the ten activities versus 58% who did this in late 2007, while 44% of all adult
Americans said they had done at least one of the non-voice data activities on the typical day, up from 32% in 2007:
- 45% of adults have iPods or MP3 players, but only 5% of
adults have used such a device to go online.
- 41% of adults have game consoles and 9% of adults have used it to go online.
- 14% of adults say they have a personal
digital assistant and 7% of adults have used a PDA to go online.
- 2% of adults say they own an e-book reader - a Kindle or a Sony reader - and just 1% of all adults
have used it to access the internet.
When mobile users were asked to think about how they get information or communicate with others while away from home or work:
say it is very important to them to have mobile access in order to stay in touch with other people
- 46% say they mobile access is very important for getting online
information on the go
- 17% say mobile access is very important to them so they can share or post online content while away from home or work
The April 2009
survey interviewed 2,253 adult Americans, including 561 who were interviewed on their cell. The margin of error in the survey is plus or minus two percentage points for results based on the
For more information from PEW, and to access the PDF file, please visit here.