Smartphone ownership is changing the way Americans are using and thinking about the Internet, according to a new study released by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
According to the report, around 64 percent of Americans have a smartphone – and about 20 percent use that phone as their primary conduit to the Internet. The study also found that for about 7 percent of smartphone owners, their mobile device is in fact their sole point of universal Web access, as they do not also subscribe to broadband Internet services.
The three largest groups that are primarily using their phones to navigate the Internet are young adults (18-29), low income earners and non-whites.
The survey further revealed that maintaining that access to the Internet can be difficult and costly for some users. Nearly half (48%) reported having to shut off their cellphone service for a period of time because the cost of maintaining that service was a financial hardship.
Almost a third of smartphone-dependent Americans say that they “frequently” reach the maximum amount of data that they are allowed to consume as part of their cell phone plan, and more than half say they face this situation occasionally. Each of these figures is substantially higher than those reported by smartphone owners with more access options at their disposal.
The most common Web-based use for a phone is in looking up health data online, with over 60 percent of respondents affirming that use. Online banking came in a close second at 57 percent while using the phone to check out real estate clocked in third at 44 percent.
Among lower income users, the phone was their primary conduit to online job searching.