More Americans Feel at Home on the Mobile Web, Report Finds

Surf's up! A Pew Research report finds more Americans than ever before are using their cell phones to access the mobile Web, employing a variety of applications such as listening to music and recording video.

Americans are using mobile devices and notebooks to access the mobile Web more than ever before, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. Cell phone and wireless laptop Internet use have each grown more prevalent over the last year, the report found, with nearly half of all adults (47 percent) going online with a laptop using a WiFi connection or mobile broadband card-up from the 39 percent who did so as of April 2009.

Forty percent of adults use the Internet, e-mail or instant messaging on a mobile phone, up from the 32 percent of Americans who did this in 2009, the report found. That means that 59 percent of adults now access the Internet wirelessly using a laptop or cell phone-that is, they answered "yes" to at least one of these wireless access pathways. That adds up to an increase from the 51 percent who used a laptop or cell phone wirelessly in April 2009, the firm noted.

The results of the report were based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 29 and May 30 among a sample of 2,252 adults, age 18 and older. The report, based on a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the Internet, also found use of non-voice data applications on cell phones grew dramatically over the last year. Compared with a similar point in 2009, cell phone owners are now more likely to use their mobile phones to play music, games and videos; send or receive text messages; and take pictures.

The report also included a variety of demographic information concerning age and race among mobile Internet users in the United States. African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos continue to be among the most active users of the mobile Web. Pew researchers found cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos than among whites (87 percent versus 80 percent), and minority cell phone owners take advantage of a "much greater range" of their phones' features compared with white mobile phone users. The survey uncovered that in total, 64 percent of African-Americans access the Internet from a laptop or mobile phone, a seven-point increase from the 57 percent who did so at a similar point in 2009.

Unsurprisingly, the survey found young adults (those ages 18-29) are avid users of mobile data applications; however, the report noted older adults are gaining fast. Compared with 2009, cell phone owners ages 30-49 were "significantly more likely" to use their mobile device to send text messages, access the Internet, take pictures, record videos, use email or instant messaging, and play music, according to survey results.