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OPLIN 4cast #434: Using a smartphone for Internet

Posted in 4cast

smartphoneThe Pew Internet folks released another of their surveys at the beginning of this month. This one is about U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015, and it seems like it ought to have some useful information for public libraries. But we’re not really sure what it means for libraries. At first glance, it appears to indicate that there is still a need for lots of public computers in libraries, since about 10% of Americans own a smartphone but do not have any other form of high-speed Internet access at home. After further reflection, however, it could mean just the opposite, if the web is becoming so friendly to mobile devices that a smartphone is enough. It does seem to contain a clear warning to libraries that do not yet have mobile-friendly websites: A significant and growing number of your patrons will probably not bother to use your website.

  • Introduction (Pew Research Center | Aaron Smith)  “Other surveys have found that around one in ten Americans own a smartphone but lack traditional home broadband service, and that roughly one in five cell phone owners conduct most of their online browsing using their cell phone, rather than a computer or similar device. This report builds on this existing body of research by conducting a deep examination of the state of smartphone ownership in America today.”
  • Chapter One: A portrait of smartphone ownership (Pew Research Center | Aaron Smith)  “Some 13% of Americans with an annual household income of less than $30,000 per year are smartphone-dependent, and 9% of those with a high school diploma or less fall into this category as well. By comparison, just 1% of Americans from households with an annual income of $75,000 or more depend on their smartphone for internet access to a similar degree. Fully 15% of Americans ages 18-29 are heavily dependent on a smartphone for online access (20% have a smartphone but not traditional broadband service, and 25% have a smartphone but have relatively limited options for going online otherwise). 12% of African Americans and 13% of Latinos are smartphone-dependent, compared with just 4% of whites.”
  • Chapter Two: Usage and attitudes toward smartphones (Pew Research Center | Aaron Smith)  “Where lower-income and smartphone-dependent users stand out primarily when it comes to using their phone for job resources and information, young adults incorporate mobile devices into a host of information seeking and transactional behaviors at a higher level than older users. Three-quarters of 18-29 year old smartphone owners have used their phone in the last year to get information about a health condition; seven-in-ten have used their phone to do online banking or to look up information about job; 44% have consumed educational content on their phone; and 34% have used their phone to apply for a job.”
  • Chapter Three: A “Week in the Life” analysis of smartphone users (Pew Research Center | Aaron Smith)  “For example, 100% of 18-29 year old smartphone owners used text messaging at least once over the course of the study, but so did 92% of those 50 and older. These age-related differences are even more modest for email (91% of 18-29 year olds and 87% of those 50 and older used email at least once) and voice/video calling (93% of 18-29 year olds did this, as did 93% of those 50 and older). Internet use, though quite common among older adults, is near-ubiquitous among younger users — fully 97% of 18-29 year old smartphone owners used their phone to go online at least once during the study period, compared to 80% of those 50 and older.”

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