July 25, 2014
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Blacks And Latinos On The Internet: There's An App For That

WASHINGTON - Six-in-ten American adults are now wireless internet users, and mobile data applications have grown more popular over the last year.

As of May 2010, 59% of all adult Americans go online wirelessly. Our definition of a wireless internet user includes the following activities:

  • Going online with a laptop using a wi-fi connection or mobile broadband card. Roughly half of all adults (47%) go online in this way, up from the 39% who did so at a similar point in 2009.
  • Use of the internet, email or instant messaging on a cell phone. Two-in-five adults (40%) do at least one of these using a mobile device, an increase from the 32% of adults who did so in 2009.

Taken together, 59% of American adults now go online wirelessly using either a laptop or cell phone, an increase over the 51% of Americans who did so at a similar point in 2009.1

Cell phone ownership has remained stable over the last year, but users are taking advantage of a much wider range of their phones' capabilities compared with a similar point in 2009. Of the eight mobile data applications we asked about in both 2009 and 2010, all showed statistically significant year-to-year growth.

This year we also asked for the first time about seven additional cell phone activities. Among all cell phone owners:

  • 54% have used their mobile device to send someone a photo or video.
  • 23% have accessed a social networking site using their phone.
  • 20% have used their phone to watch a video.
  • 15% have posted a photo or video online.
  • 11% have purchased a product using their phone.
  • 11% have made a charitable donation by text message.
  • 10% have used their mobile phone to access a status update service such as Twitter.

African-Americans and Latinos continue to outpace whites in their use of data applications on handheld devices.

Continuing a trend we first identified in 2009, minority Americans lead the way when it comes to mobile access -- especially mobile access using handheld devices. Nearly two-thirds of African-Americans (64%) and Latinos (63%) are wireless internet users, and minority Americans are significantly more likely to own a cell phone than are their white counterparts (87% of blacks and Hispanics own a cell phone, compared with 80% of whites). Additionally, black and Latino cell phone owners take advantage of a much wider array of their phones' data functions compared to white cell phone owners. It is important to note that our data for Hispanics represents English-speaking Hispanics only, as our survey did not provide a Spanish-language option.

Young adults are heavily invested in the mobile Web, although 30-to-49 year olds are gaining ground.

Nine-in-ten 18-to-29 year olds own a cell phone, and these young cell owners are significantly more likely than those in other age groups to engage in all of the mobile data applications we asked about in our survey. Among 18-29 year old cell phone owners:

  • 95% send or receive text messages.
  • 93% use their phone to take pictures.
  • 81% send photos or videos to others.
  • 65% access the internet on their mobile device.
  • 64% play music on their phones.
  • 60% use their phones to play games or record a video.
  • 52% have used their phone to send or receive email.
  • 48% have accessed a social networking site on their phone.
  • 46% use instant messaging on their mobile device.
  • 40% have watched a video on their phone.
  • 33% have posted a photo or video online from their phone.
  • 21% have used a status update service such as Twitter from their phone.
  • 20% have purchased something using their mobile phone.
  • 19% have made a charitable donation by text message.

Although young adults have the highest levels of mobile data application use among all age groups, utilization of these services is growing fast among 30-to-49 year olds. Compared with a similar point in 2009, cell owners ages 30 to 49 are significantly more likely to use a range of mobile data applications on a handheld device.

The mobile data applications with the largest year-to-year increases among the 30-to-49 year old cohort include taking pictures (83% of 30-to-49 year old cell owners now do this, a 12-point increase from 2009); recording videos (39% do this now, an 18-point increase from 2009); playing music (36% do this now, a 15-point increase); using instant messaging (35% now do this, a 14-point increase); and accessing the internet (43% now do this, a 12-point increase compared with 2009).

Continue reading the full report at pewinternet.org.


1. Because of changes in question wordings over time, our current wireless internet user definition is not directly comparable to any pre-2009 findings.

 

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does so by conducting public opinion polling and social science research; by analyzing news coverage; and by holding forums and briefings. It does not take positions on policy issues.



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