A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users
Connectors surround themselves with technology and use it to connect with people and digital content. They get a lot out of their mobile devices and participate actively in online life.
This group got online just a bit later relative to Omnivores, but they have quickly marched up the adoption curve in terms of acquiring information and communications goods and services. Connectors have moved fast in integrating the cell phone into their lives and use it especially as a tool to stay in touch with friends and family. They also use ICT to contribute to the online digital commons through sharing their creations online or blogging. All in all, Connectors like information technology and they are willing to stretch the boundaries of its basic functions, whether that is online or with their cell phones.
Yet Connectors are generally a step behind Omnivores in terms of the gadgets they have and the depth and scope of their online participation. Connectors generally have one fewer information tool than Omnivores – for some it is probably an MP3 player, for others a web camera. They are also less than half as likely as Omnivores to have their own blogs or participate in group blogs, and less likely to have their own web pages or remix content for the internet. Nonetheless, Connectors rate above all other groups (except Omnivores) on measures of access to information age hardware and participation in cyberspace.
This group is very well-equipped with the basics – in our sample, 100% are internet users, 92% have cell phones, and 86% have broadband at home. They are above average with respect to digital cameras (86% have them) and video cameras (68% have them).
The cell phones of Connectors are packed with functionality. Nearly two-thirds (62%) have cell phones that let them check email and 46% of Connectors can take a picture with their cell phones. One quarter (28%) can take a video using their cell phone (nearly twice the average) and 60% can surf the internet with their cell phone.
Connectors try the cutting edge; many download video or post content of their own to the internet.
Connectors also have devices that can serve as platforms to engaging with online content. Two-thirds (65%) have laptop computers, nearly half have MP3 players, and 26% have Web cameras, figures that are twice the average or more.
Connectors have broad and deeply embedded technology habits that shape how they keep up with others, entertain themselves, and pursue their interests. Fully 93% go online on the typical day – a figure comparable to the 92% recorded for Omnivores – and they are apt to log on several times a day both at home and work (63% and 54%, respectively, do this). The internet is clearly a destination for them, as more than half (54%) go online just for fun on the average day, twice the average and behind only Omnivores.
This group also uses tools that enable both one-to-one and one-to-many communications. Some 57% have used instant messaging, and a fifth (22%) uses it on a typical day. Half have used the text messaging capability on their cell phones. Some 15% of Connectors have their own blogs and 24% have their own web pages, figures that are both twice the average.
Entertainment plays a big role for ICT uses for Connectors. Half (55%) of Connectors also play video games; 33% play video games at least several times a month. Most of the time their gaming is either by themselves (81%) or with others in the same location (75%), but 31% play games with others over the internet. And 52% have downloaded music from the internet and 40% have downloaded video.
Half of Connectors go online just to pass the time on the average day, suggesting the internet is a destination for them.
Their TV watching habits are not deep in terms of number of hours watched per day, but they are more than willing to try out television on other devices. Fully 52% of Connectors have watched TV programming on a device other than a television set – four times the average. Similarly, 70% have listened to radio on a device other than a home or car radio, three times the average.
With their broad engagement with user-generated content, it seems likely that entertainment, communication, and digital content flow across boundaries of people and devices for Connectors. Two-thirds (67%) have done one of the six activities relating to user-generated content, and four in ten (38%) have shared a personal creation of theirs on the internet (twice the average). One in five (19%) have taken digital content and remixed into something else; the average is 9%
The communicative aspects of information technology are very important for this group. Some 85% say that information technology helps them keep in touch with family and friends (the average is 59%) and 64% like the fact that information gadgets make them more available to others (compared with the 48% average). Connectors are also more likely than average to say that information technology helps them work with others in their community or groups to which they belong (55% versus 28%). This group does suspect there is more functionality in their information tools than they actually use; 82% believe their information gadgets can do more, the highest of any group.
Members of this group also herald the productivity-enhancing aspects of information technology. A clear majority (66%) say that information technology helps them “a lot” to be more productive, twice the average. Finally, 68% of Connectors say information technology helps them “a lot” with their jobs, twenty six percentage points above average.
Connectors also like ICTs for what it brings to the creative and recreational dimensions of their lives. ICTs are a learning tool for them; 81% say it helps them “a lot” in learning new things, and half (53%) say the same things about how ICTs help them pursue their hobbies. A similar number (51%) says this with respect to ICTs and sharing their creations with others.
Connectors, who make up 7% of the population, have a median age of 38, with a majority (54%) in the 30-49 age range. Ethnically, it is mostly white (72%); 16% are Black and 12% are English-speaking Hispanics. The typical Connector has been online for 9 years, which suggests this group was a second-wave of late 1990s adopters. Most are women (55%) and they rate above average in educational attainment and income.