More Than One-Third of American Adults Rely Mostly on Their Smartphone to Go Online

July 2, 2019

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Mobile Phone | Youth & Gen X

Smartphone ownership in the US has soared in recent years, with a new study by the Pew Research Center reporting that ownership has increased from 35% in 2011 to 81% in 2019. As the use of smartphones increases, so does the percentage of adults who mostly use their phones go online.

Indeed, more than one-third (37%) of US adults say they mostly go online using their smartphone, about twice the share (19%) of adults who did so back in 2013. Broken down even further, nearly 6 in 10 (58%) 18-29-year-olds and half (47%) of 30-49-years olds tend to use mostly their smartphones to get on the internet.

Older adults tend to stick to their computers more, it seems. Although smartphone ownership among older adults (ages 55 and older) is climbing, those individuals who use them mostly to go online trail the total average (27% for 50-64-year-olds; 15% for Americans 65 years and older).

Smartphones’ capabilities have also led some to forego purchasing a home broadband subscription. Past data has shown that the majority of US households now have broadband services. However, there are still households who do not have broadband. Pew Research’s newest data reveals that, of the 27% of US adults who do not have home broadband, 45% say one of the reasons is because their smartphone does everything they need. In fact, 23% share of the non-broadband users say that their smartphone’s capabilities is the most important reason they do not have broadband.

More than one-quarter (27%) of non-broadband users say that the cost of either a broadband subscription or a computer is the most important reason why they don’t own broadband. The high price of broadband is very likely the reason why 18% of individuals in lower-income households (less than $30K) do not go on the internet at all, and also why one-quarter (26%) of lower-income adults rely on their smartphones to use the internet.

About the Data: The report is based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 8-Feb. 7, 2019, among a national sample of 1,502 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia

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