As of May 2010, 59 percent of all adult Americans go online wirelessly, using either a laptop or cellphone, compared with 51 percent of Americans who did so at a similar point in 2009, according to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project called "Mobile Access 2010."

Pew’s definition of a wireless Internet usage includes the following:

  • Going online with a laptop using a WiFi connection or mobile broadband card. Roughly half of all adults (47 percent) go online in this way, up from 39 percent who did so this time last year.
  • Using the Internet, email or instant messaging on a cellphone. Two in five adults (40 percent) do at least one of these using a mobile device, an increase from the 32 percent who did so a year ago.

The eight point year-to-year increase in wireless Internet usage (51 percent to 59 percent) is reflected across a fairly broad range of demographic groups, with 18-to-29-year-olds and those with a household income of less than $30,000 per year showing the greatest increases.

Cellphone ownership has remained stable during the last year, but Americans are using a wider range of their phones’ capabilities. Among all adult cellphone owners:

  • 38 percent access the Internet on their mobile devices
  • 34 percent have used their phones to send or receive email
  • 23 percent have accessed a social-networking site using their phones
  • 20 percent use their phones to watch videos

The Pew research also found that young adults have the highest levels of mobile-data application use among all age groups. Ninety percent of 18-to-29-year-olds own a cellphone, and this demographic is significantly more likely than those in other age groups to engage in an array of mobile-data applications. For example: 

  • 65  percent access the Internet on their mobile devices
  • 52 percent have used their phones to send or receive email
  • 48 percent have accessed a social-networking site on their phones
  • 40 percent have watched videos on their phones

The Pew Mobile Access 2010 report is based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 29 and May 30, 2010, among a sample of 2,252 adults aged 18 and older, including 744 reached on a cellphone.  Interviews were conducted in English.

-Linda Hardesty

The Daily


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