9 in 10 Smartphone Owners Text

August 15, 2011

pew-cell-activities-aug-2011.JPGAbout nine in 10 (92%) US smartphone owners send or receive text messages, 56% more than the 59% of cell phone owners who do so, according to [pdf] an August 2011 study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Pew data also shows that smartphone owners engage in a variety of other phone-based activities at much higher rates than other cell phone owners.

For example, smartphone owners take pictures at the same rate difference (92% to 59%). Even more significantly, 84% of smartphone owners access the internet with their device, close to six times the 15% of other cell phone owners who take part in this activity. The most striking difference, however, is in app download. Sixty-nine percent of smartphone owners download apps, more than 17 times the 4% of other cell phone owners who do so.

Youngest Cell Phone Users Most Active

pew-cell-phone-age-aug-2011.JPGFor a wide range of mobile activities, the youngest adult cell phone users (18-29) participate at the highest rates and the oldest (65 and up) participate at the lowest rates. For example, 95% of cell phone users 18-29 text, almost four times the 24% of cell phone owners 65 and up who text.

The widest differential between the youngest and oldest adult cell phone users is in mobile access of social networking sites. Fifty percent of 18-to-29-year-old cell phone users access social networking sites with their device, 25 times the 2% of cell phone users 65 and up who do so.

In every case except for participating in video calls/video chat, rate of participation steadily drops through the four age brackets, from oldest to youngest. For video calling/chatting, 2% of both 50-to-64-year-old and 65-and-older cell phone users participate.

Minorities Lead Variety of Mobile Activities

pew-cell-race-aug-2011.JPGBreaking down participation in different mobile activities by race, Pew finds that non-white minorities have higher rates than whites. For example, 83% of non-white Hispanic cell phone users text, compared to 76% of black cell phone users and 70% of white cell phone users.
In general, disparities in mobile activity participation by race are less pronounced than disparities by age. The widest disparity exists in the overall least popular activity, video chatting/calling, which has 12% non-white Hispanic participation and 10% black participation but only 4% white participation, meaning whites are roughly two to three times less likely than members of these two minority groups to participate.

Youngest Users 10x as Likely to Get Mobile Entertainment as Oldest

pew-cell-age-aug-2011.JPGSeventy percent of cell phone users 18-29 have used their phone for entertainment or when they were bored in the past 10 days, 10 times the 7% of cell phone users 65 and up who have done so. A similar disparity exists in frustration with download time (32% compared to 3%), while 30% of the youngest adult users have pretended to use their phone to avoid interaction, 15 times the 2% of the oldest users who have done so in the past 10 days.

Interestingly, the youngest (13%) and oldest users (10%) have lower rates of having trouble reading something on a screen because text or screen size was too small than users 30-49 (18%) or 50-64 (19%). The disparity among the oldest users may relate at least partially to lower general use of their cell phone to read messages or look at graphics.

comScore: Smartphone Users Get More Active

The percentage of US mobile subscribers engaging in a variety of smartphone-based activities including downloading apps and social networking increased from the three-month period ended March 2011 and the three-month period ended June 2011, according to comScore MobiLens data. Mobile access of social networks/blogs grew most dramatically, 6.5%, from 27.3% to 29.1%.

Following closely behind, use of downloaded apps grew about 6%, from 37.3% to 39.5%. Listening to mobile music also grew about 6%, from 17.9% to 19%. Meanwhile, playing mobile games increased about 5%, from 25.7% to 26.9%, and mobile browser use climbed 4%, from 38.6% to 40.1.%. Furthermore, texting increased about 1%, from 68.6% to 69.6%.

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