Think Cell Phone Use of You Site is Small? Think Again.

According to Pew Research, 17 percent of cell phone owners do most of their online browsing on their phone.

As of April 2012, 88 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone of some kind, and 55 percent use their phone to go online. These “cell internet users” represent a notable increase from the 31 percent of cell owners who said that they used their phone to go online as recently as April 2009.

Young adults and non-whites are especially likely to use their cell phones for the majority of their online activity:

  • 45% of all 18-29 year olds who use the internet on their cell phones do most of their online browsing on their mobile device
  • 51% of African American cell internet users do most of their online browsing on their phone; 42% of Latino cell internet users fall into the “cell-mostly” category

The main reason why they conduct most of their online browsing on a mobile phone, these cell-mostly users point to three major factors:

  • Cell phones are convenient, always available. 64% of cell-mostly internet users say factors related to convenience or the always-available nature of mobile phones when asked for the main reason
  • Cell phones better fit people’s usage habits. 18% of cell-mostly internet users say that their online habits make their cell phone a simpler, more effective choice for going online
  • Cell phones fill access gaps. 10% of cell-mostly internet users point towards a lack of other access options as the main reason why they primarily use their phone to go online

Just over half of American cell owners (53%, representing 46% of all U.S. adults) now own a smartphone of some kind, and 90% of these smartphone owners say that they use their phone to go online.

User Demographic Cell Phone Use (% Using Internet or email on cell)
April 2009 April 2012 Go Online Mostly Using CellPhone 
All cell owners

31%

55%

31%

Gender
   Men

35

57

29

   Women

27

54

32

Age
   18-24

45

75

45 (18-29)

   25-34

43

80

29 (30-49)

   35-44

38

68

11 (50+)

   45-54

28

53

   55-64

17

30

   65+

7

16

Race/Ethnicity
   White, non-Hispanic

27

52

24

   Black, non-Hispanic

44

64

51

   Hispanic

44

63

42

Household Income
   Less than $30,000

26

50

43

   $30,000-$49,999

31

52

36

   $50,000-$74,999

29

60

24

   $75,000+

43

69

21

Education Level
   Less than High School

28

45

39 (≤HS)

   High School Grad

24

49

   Some College

35

57

38

   College+

36

64

16

Geographic Location
   Urban

30

62

33

   Suburban

25

56

28

   Rural

17

44

32

Source: PewResearch Center, July 2012

Complete Report

Image courtesy of supakitmod / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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