Half of Cell Phone Owners Now Email, Download Apps

September 23, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Digital | Email | Hispanic | Local & Directories / Small Biz | Men | Mobile Phone | Women

Pew-Popular-Cell-Phone-Activities-Sept20139 in 10 American adults own a cell phone as of May, and these adults are using their phones for a variety of activities other than voice calls, according to [pdf] new data from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Sending and receiving text messages (81% of cell phone owners) continues to be the most common activity, but 60% are now accessing the internet from their phone (up from 29% in 2009) and 52% are sending and receiving emails (up from 27% in 2009). The rise in use of connected activities is no doubt attributable to the growing penetration of smartphones, while the increasing incidence in use of mobile phones for emailing is reflected in a wide swathe of research, such as this piece from Experian indicating that 1 in 2 email opens occurred on a mobile device during Q2.

Beyond texting and emailing, half of cell phone owners surveyed by Pew indicate that they download applications, up from 22% in 2009. 49% get directions, recommendations or other location-based information and 8% “check in” or share their location (demographics found here).

Roughly half of cell phone owners listen to music and 1 in 5 participate in a video call or video chat, according to Pew.

Not surprisingly, there are some profound differences when sorting these activities among different demographics. Younger cell phone owners are more likely to perform each activity than older owners, and the likelihood of performing these activities tends to increase alongside educational attainment and household income (except for location-sharing). Also, men are more likely to perform these activities than women, save for location-sharing and texting, where they’re of almost equal likelihood. There is more variety when it comes to ethnicity, though:

  • Hispanic cell phone owners are more likely than Black and White owners to text, get directions and other location-related services, listen to music, video chat, and share their location; but
  • Black owners are the most likely race/ethnicity to access the internet, send or receive emails, and download apps;

About the Data: The findings in the report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 17 to May 19, 2013, among a sample of 2,252 adults ages 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline and cell phone. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.


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