Generational Differences in Consumer Electronic Device Ownership

January 10, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Digital | Mobile Phone | Non-mobile Connected Devices | Tablet | Technology | Youth & Gen X

Gallup-Generational-Skew-in-Tech-Use-Jan2014Out with the old, in with the new. Survey results from Gallup reveal – unsurprisingly – that some electronic devices have fallen out of fashion in recent years, while others (primarily those that connect to the internet) have gained steam. Another predictable result? Youth are more likely to have adopted newer devices than their older counterparts. But the extent of the generational gap is still worth taking a look at.

Gallup measured the penetration rates of 14 consumer electronic devices among 18-29-year-olds and those aged 65 and up. According to the results, the devices which skew youngest (largest % point gap in adoption between the youngest and oldest group) are:

  • Smartphones (63% points higher among the youngest group);
  • Video game system (54% points);
  • Internet streaming service (47% points);
  • iPod/MP3 music player (47% points); and
  • Laptop computer (38% points).

Two of these devices – MP3 music players and laptop computers, specifically – also count among those with the greatest increase in overall adoption since 2005, per the study. Another two (smartphones and streaming services) weren’t even on the radar in 2005.

Meanwhile, the devices that skew the oldest (largest % point gap in adoption between the oldest and youngest age group) are:

  • Satellite TV (9% points higher among the oldest group);
  • Cable TV (12% points);
  • Desktop computer (17% points);
  • VCR (33% points);
  • Basic cellphone (37% points).

Interestingly, the difference in adoption between the two groups was relatively minimal for tablets: 34% of the 18-29 group reported owning a tablet, compared to 25% of the 65+ group. That contrasts with an earlier study from the Pew Research Center, which found a 19% point gap between the two age groups as of September 2013, primarily due to lower recorded penetration among the oldest group.

A couple more fun stats from the survey:

  • Americans are about as likely to own a desktop computer (57%) as they are to own a VCR (58%); and
  • 18-29-year-olds are as likely to have an internet streaming service as they are a cable TV (each at 62%).

About the Data: Results for the Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec 5-8, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,031 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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