Growing numbers of cell phone owners are using the mobile phones to go online. More than half (55%) are so-called “cell Internet users.” That’s up sharply from 31% who said they used their cell phones to go online as recently as April 2009, according to results of a just-released Pew Internet & American Life survey.
Moreover, 31% of cell Internet users said that they use their cell phones to go online most of the time as opposed to using a desktop or laptop computer. That’s equates to 17% of all adult cell phone owners in the U.S. who are “cell-mostly Internet users,” a term Pew researchers have coined to describe cell phone users who do most of their online browsing using their mobile phones.
By comparison 60% of cell phone-Internet users and 33% of all cell phone owners said they mostly use other devices to go online. Forty-five percent of all cell phone owners don’t use their cell phones to go online. In addition, 9% of cell phone-Internet users and 5% of all cell phone owners use both equally or said, “It depends.”
Pew researchers found that young adults and non-whites are particularly prone to use their cell phones when going online, as were those with annual household incomes of under $50,000 a year and those who don’t have a college degree:
- Nearly half of all 18-29 year-olds (45%) who use the internet on their cell phones do most of their online browsing on their mobile device.
- Half (51%) of African-American cell internet users do most of their online browsing on their phone, double the proportion for whites (24%). Two in five Latino cell internet users (42%) also fall into the “cell-mostly” category.
Three major factors were cited by respondents as to why they use their cell phones to do most of their online activities:
- Cell phones are convenient, always available – 64% of cell-mostly internet users mention factors related to convenience or the always-available nature of mobile phones when asked for the main reason why they do most of their online browsing on their cell phone
- Cell phones better fit people’s usage habits – 18% of cell-mostly internet users say that their online habits (or the habits of those around them) make their cell phone a simpler, more effective choice for going online. Just under one in ten (7%) say that they do mostly basic activities when they go online and do not require a more advanced device, while 6% say that they simply find their cell phone to be easier to use than a traditional computer
- Cell phones fill access gaps – 10% of cell-mostly internet users point towards a lack of other access options as the main reason why they primarily use their phone to go online, with 6% saying that they do not have access to a computer and 4% saying that they do not have any other source of internet access beyond their mobile connection