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Pew: Mobile Internet Usage Grows Explosively, Esp Among Minorities and Young

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 7 2010

A new survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project shows that Americans are clambering onto the mobile internet at an astonishingly fast pace, with African-Americans, English-speaking Hispanics and 18-to-29-year-olds leading the way. The whole report is worth reading, but here are my quick take-aways:

* In just the last year, the percentage of people accessing the internet via mobile phones has climbed from 32% to 40%. Daily usage has also jumped, from just 24% saying they went online several times a day from their mobile in 2009, to 43% in May 2010, when Pew conducted its survey.

* Though Pew's data doesn't explore what Spanish-speaking Hispanics are doing online (c'mon guys, why can't you address that data gap?), it's clear that the trend they unearthed last year is real. The contours of the digital divide are changing rapidly, as many minorities are simply leap-frogging past expensive desktop and broadband-at-home choices to go online via their mobile devices. Cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos than among whites, for example (87% to 80%), and Pew found they also use far more non-voice applications on their devices than whites.

* Stop dithering about trying mobile fundraising! Pew's survey found that 19% of young folks (18-29) have made a charitable contribution via texting. Overall, 11% of cell phone owners have done so.

* The sharing culture is real and growing: 54% of mobile phone owners have used their phone to send someone a photo or video, and 15% have posted a photo or video from their phone online.

* Gamers are also big internet users, though Pew's data doesn't tell us much about what that means in terms of usage. 42% of Americans own a game console like an Xbox and nearly a third of those use it to access the internet.