Mobile tech devices, such as laptops, cell phones, smartphones and other handheld devices, are dramatically changing the way Americans access information in their lives. Currently, 53% of adults access the internet wirelessly either through a laptop or a cell phone, BlackBerry or other handheld device. Pew Internet studies have shown that wireless internet users are different from other online adults in important ways: they are 36% more likely than wired internet users to access the internet on a given day, and they engage in virtually all online activities (including email, social networking, and blogging) at higher rates than other internet users.
To understand the impact of wireless mobility on news consumption, the current survey asked owners of cell phones, BlackBerries and other handheld devices about different ways they might get news on the go. Overall, 26% of American adults say they get some form of news via cell phone – that amounts to 33% of adult cell phone owners and 88% of adults who have mobile internet. To arrive at that figure we asked the 80% of American adults who own cell phones if they access the internet or email by phone; some 37% say they do. Among this subgroup of internet-using mobile phone users, we found that the vast majority get some kind of news online:
- 72% check weather reports on their cell
- 68% get news and current events information on their cell
- 49% have downloaded an application that allows them to access news, weather, sports, or other information on their cell
- 44% check sports scores and related information on their cell
- 35% check traffic information on their cell
- 32% get financial information or updates
- 31% get news alerts sent by text or email to their phones
- 88% say yes to at least one of the above
Overall, cell users under age 50 are almost three times as likely as their older counterparts to get news on the go (43% v. 15%), and they engage in all cell-based news consumption activities at higher rates than older cell phone users.