Mobile Web Use Growing In U.S.

Use of non-voice data applications on mobile phones has grown dramatically over the last year with video recording experiencing the largest uptick in use.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

July 7, 2010

2 Min Read

The number of Americans heading to the web on mobile phones or laptops is rising with African-Americans and Latinos ahead of whites in mobile Internet use.

Overall, nearly six in 10 U.S. adults access the Internet wirelessly from a phone or laptop, up from 51% in April 2009, the Pew Internet & American Life Project said in a study released Wednesday. Breaking the number down by device, 47% of adults go online with a laptop using Wi-Fi or a mobile broadband card, while 40% use the Internet, email, or instant messaging on a mobile phone.

African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos were the most active users of the mobile web. The minorities had a higher cell-phone ownership than whites, 87% versus 80%, and took advantage of a much greater range of their phones' features.

Overall, the use of non-voice data applications on mobile phones has grown dramatically over the last year, the study found. Compared to last year, the percentage of people using their cell phones to take pictures, send and receive text messages, access the web, play games, record video or play music rose by 7% to as much as 15%, depending on the activity. Video recording had the biggest year-to-year jump, increasing to 34% from 19%.

Young adults from 18 to 29 years old continued to be avid users of the mobile web, but older Americans were catching up fast. Compared to a year ago, cell-phone users ages 30 to 49 are significantly more likely to use their handsets to send text messages, email and instant messages; access the web, snap pictures, record video and play tunes, the study.

The Pew study is based on telephone interviews with 2,252 adults age 18 and older between April 29 and May 30. The study has an error margin of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

The latest study followed on the heels of a Pew survey of Internet experts and users who agreed that the Internet will do more social good than harm over the next decade. Fully, 85% of people polled believe the web has and will continue to enrich their personal relationships.

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