A Closer Look at Gadget Ownership

NEW YORK—As of early 2012, 88 percent of American adults have a cell phone, 58 percent have a desktop computer, 61 percent have a laptop, 18 percent own an e-book reader, and 18 percent have a tablet computer, according to Pew Internet & American Life’s latest research. Gadget ownership is generally correlated with age, education, and household income, although some devices—notably e-book readers and tablets—are as popular or even more popular with adults in their thirties and forties than young adults ages 18 to 29.

When the Pew Internet Project first began writing about the role of the internet in American life in 2000, there were stark differences between those who were using the internet and those who were not. Today, differences in internet access still exist among different demographic groups, especially when it comes to access to high-speed broadband at home. The ways in which people connect to the internet are also much more varied today than they were in 2000. As a result, internet access is no longer synonymous with going online with a desktop computer.

The rise of mobile is changing the story. Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic internet access are using wireless connections to go online. Among smartphone owners, young adults, minorities, those with no college experience, and those with lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their main source of internet access.

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