Report

Info on the Go: Mobile Access to Data and Information

According to the Pew Internet Project's December 2007 survey, 58% of adult Americans have used a cell phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) to do at least one of 10 mobile non-voice data activities, such as texting, emailing, taking a picture, looking for maps or directions, or recording video. And 41% of adult Americans have logged onto the internet on the go, that is, away from home or work either with a wireless laptop connection or a handheld device.

Taking account of overlap between the two groups, this means that 62% of all Americans have some experience with mobile access to digital data and tools. That is, they have either used a cell phone or PDA for a non-voice data application or logged on to the internet away from home or work using a wireless laptop connection or with a handheld device or both. The Pew Internet Project's December 2007 survey interviewed a sample of 2,054 adult Americans, which included 500 respondents contacted on their cell phones.

Accompanying this changing nature of access -- no longer slow and stationary, but now fast and mobile -- has been a transformation in how people value their media access tools. When asked how hard it would be to give up a specific technology, respondents are now most likely to say the cell phone would be most difficult to do without, followed by the internet, TV, and landline telephone. This represents a sharp reversal in how people viewed these technologies in 2002.

Leading the way in this world of untethered access are young adult Americans, Hispanics and African Americans. A majority of adults under age 30 and Hispanics would find it hardest to do without their cell phones -- and are much more likely to say it would be hard to be without a cell phone than to be without the internet or email. Hispanics in the United States are a more youthful group than whites or African Americans, but Latinos' attachment to the cell phone stands out even after controlling for age and other demographic and socio-economic factors.

Read the full report Mobile Access to Data and Information on the Pew Internet & American Life Web site.