? of Online Adults Have Placed Internet Phone Call

June 1, 2011

pew-growth-online-phone-calls-june-2011.JPGA quarter of US adult internet users (24%) have placed phone calls online, according to [pdf] a May 2011 study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. That amounts to 19% of all American adults.

On any given day, 5% of internet users are going online to place phone calls.

Online Phone Call Popularity Grows

Both of the above figures are marked increases from previous readings in surveys by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Using different question wording, Pew found in February 2007 that 8% of internet users (6% of all adults) had placed calls online and 2% of internet users were making calls on any given day.

At various points during the 2000s, Pew asked similar questions and found that at most about 10% of internet users had ever used the internet to place calls and the daily figure never rose above 1% of internet users.

Video Calling Contributes to Growth

Pew analysis indicates the rise of video calling, especially on smartphones, is part of the increase. In the current survey, Pew found that 7% of cell phone owners had participated in video calls or online chats with their handheld device.

Current Online Call Usage Equals Prior Awareness

It is interesting to note that the percentage of American internet users who have placed phone calls online is now about the same as the percent who were aware in 2004 that it was possible to use the internet for phone calling. Pew Internet did a survey in February 2004 asking about the incidence level of online phone calling, which then stood at 11% of internet users.

Hispanics, Wealthy, Educated More Likely to Place Online Calls

pew-online-phone-callers-june-2011.JPGLooking at the demographics of adults who place online phone calls, Pew data indicates certain groups are significantly more likely to do so. For example, 27% of online Hispanics place online phone calls, almost 29% more than the 21% of non-Hispanic whites and blacks who do so.

More strikingly, 36% of internet users with a household income of $75,000 or more place online phone calls. This is a 64% higher rate than the 22% of those earning $50,000 to $74,999, 60% more than the 24% of those earning $30,000 to $49,999, and 177% more than the 13% of those earning less than $30,000.

Dividing internet phone callers by education level, 35% of web users with a college degree or more place online phone calls, 59% more than the 22% of web users with some college and 150% more than the 14% of web users with a high school diploma or less.

Differences Less Pronounced among Genders, Generations

Interestingly, 24% of both male and female internet users place online phone calls. Looking at generation, a significant gap occurs at age 50. Nearly identical percentages of web users age 18-29 (27%) and 30-49 (25%) place internet phone calls, as is true with web users age 50-64 (19%) and 65-plus (18%).

Latinos Lag Whites in Tech Use

It is interesting that online Hispanics place internet phone calls at a considerably higher rate than whites, because Latinos are less likely than whites to access the internet, have a home broadband connection or own a cell phone, according to previously released survey findings from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Latinos lag behind blacks in home broadband access but have similar rates of internet and cell phone use.

About the Data: Results are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to May 22, 2011, among a sample of 2,277 adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (1,522) and cell phone (755, including 346 without a landline phone).

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