Americans use their smartphones for everything from job searches to avoiding contact with others

india 2nd largest smartphone market 2017 cancer
Smartphones are now the computer of choice for many people around the globe. And while it’s typically thought that only people in developing countries are relying exclusively on their smartphones for the Internet, a new study from the Pew Research Center indicates that Americans are also gravitating more and more to mobile devices to access the Web.

Smartphone dependent

Of the 64 percent of Americans who own a smartphone, 10 percent do not have broadband at home, which means that their smartphone is their sole means for accessing the Internet. An additional 15 percent of smartphone owners say they have a limited amount of alternative ways to go online, and so they rely on their smartphones as well. The study found that one in five American adults either do not have access to broadband or have limited access to the Internet outside of their data plan on their phone.

A range of factors, including income, ethnicity, and age, were relevant to this phenomenon:

  • Money talks: Pew discovered that 13 percent of Americans with an annual household income of less than $30,000 a year  were completely dependent on their smartphones for Internet access. In contrast, just 1 percent of Americans who earn $75,000 and up a year are dependent solely on their smartphone for Internet access.
  • Age is key: Some 15 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 are heavily dependent on their smartphones for Web access.
  • Ethnicity plays a role: Around 12 percent of African Americans and 13 percent of Latinos are smartphone-dependent, but only 4 percent of whites rely only on their smartphones for Internet access.

To make matters worse for smartphone-reliant Internet users, Pew found that a whopping 48 percent of such smartphone-dependent Americans have had to cancel their phone plans for a while because the they could not afford the monthly fees for data and service. In addition, 30 percent of smartphone-dependent users routinely exceed their data cap and 51 percent say it happens often.

Smartphone need

The study turned up some interesting trends among the types of activities smartphone users engage in while on the Web. More than half have looked up a health condition or done online banking on their phones. Slightly less than half have looked up real estate listings, job information, and government services. Some even use their phones to apply for jobs and take classes.

When it comes to news, it turns out that smartphone users love to be up to date on info, with nearly 70 percent following breaking news on their smartphones and sharing thoughts on news stories with friends. Turn-by-turn navigation instructions are similarly popular among smartphone users, though public transit directions are used by just 25 percent of Americans. At this point, almost half of Americans say they couldn’t live without their phones.

smartphone use

One of the funnier parts of the study details how differently younger smartphone owners use their phones from how older Americans do. Some 91 percent of smartphone users between 18 and 29 used social networks on their phone at least once during the study. In contrast, only 55 percent of those 50 and older used social networks.

Perhaps the most revealing divide between the generations involved phone usage designed to avoid other people or to stave off boredom. Around 93 percent of 18-29 year old smartphone users said they used their phones when bored at least once during the week. Additionally, nearly half of smartphone owners in that age group used their phone to avoid other people. Youngsters did so three times more often than older Americans.

The study holds many more cool nuggets of info, so check out the full thing on the Pew Research Center site.


Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.

Here's how you can control your PS4 right from your phone

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can get the most out of the system while on the go.

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.

Google Fi: Phones, plans, pricing, perks, and more explained

Google's wireless service, formerly Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi, and it's now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about Google Fi.
Product Review

There’s almost nothing bad to say about the Mi Mix 3, but you still shouldn’t buy it

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is good-looking, really well made, packed with features, and is a powerful, modern, desirable smartphone. But you probably shouldn’t buy it. Why? Nothing wrong with the device itself, but Xiaomi itself is mostly to…

Get your hands (and ears) on Apple’s new AirPods — here’s where to find them

Apple's new AirPods with wireless charging are the latest version of the much-loved wireless earbuds. Unfortunately, they aren't widely available yet. Here's where you can find them right now, and where they will show up soon.

You can now use the innovative Red Hydrogen One on Google Fi

The Red Hydrogen One was first announced in 2017 and has been delayed a few times since then. Now, the Red Hydrogen One is finally available, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.

Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat may be coming soon

At its September event in 2017, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.

The best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods might be new and improved, but they aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, with attractive features. These are the best AirPod alternatives on the market today.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

The latest Google Doodle lets you create Bach-like music of your own

Google is celebrating the life of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, and to that end the company has released a new Google Doodle that allows you to create Bach-like melodies and harmonies of your own.

Amazon’s new Kindle has an adjustable light and costs less than $100

Amazon has taken the wraps off of a new Kindle model, which boasts a number of great features and comes at a very affordable price. Perhaps the best thing about the new Kindle is that the device has an adjustable.