Half Of Americans Own Smartphones, Use it to Read News

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

If you’re reading this news story on a smartphone or tablet, you’re probably not the only one. As many as 45% of American adults own a smartphone, and many of those American adults use those smartphones or other devices to read and take part in news. That’s according to two reports released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Smartphone Ownership Update: September 2012” released by Pew Internet & American Life Project looks into the percentage of the U.S. population that uses smartphones. A second report: “How people get local news and information in different communities” released jointly by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Knight Foundation, finds out how people in urban, suburban and rural communities access news and information.

Nearly half of the adult American population owns a smartphone. Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that 45% of this cohort owns a smartphone. Of that group, 46% are men and 45% are women. Young adults are most likely to own a smartphone. Sixty-six percent of those in the 18 to 29 age group own an iPhone, Android device or other smartphone; 59% in the 30 to 49 age group; 34% in the 50 to 64 age group; and 11% of those over 65 years old.

A larger spread identifies the smartphone set by where they live. In urban communities 48% of U.S. adults own a smartphone; 49% in suburban neighborhoods and 29% in rural communities.

Across the board, all people in the U.S. tend to have similar levels of interest in news; however, the way they access that news differs.

Urban residents access information using a number of platforms, including a range of digital activities. Many people in urban areas conduct internet searches, use Twitter, write or read blogs and websites for local TV stations and newspapers. This group is most likely to be digital “news participators” and email local stories to others, post and share articles and material on social networking sites, comment on online news stories and contribute to online discussions. Urban news hounds, along with their suburban counterparts, are more likely to get news via mobile devices.

Suburban residents are more likely to rely on radio, which may be due to the car culture and longer commutes to work. Those living in the suburbs are more interested in news and information about arts and cultural events, local restaurants, traffic and taxes. While radio is an important source for information, suburbanites rely on the internet for information about local restaurants, businesses and jobs. Television is a source in this community for weather and breaking news.

Those living in small towns are more likely to rely on traditional news platforms such as television and newspaper to get local news. Newspapers are a source for civic information, and many residents prefer a local newspaper for information such as local weather, crime, community events, schools, arts and culture, taxes, housing, zoning, local government and social services. Residents of small towns would likely be the most affected if the local newspaper stopped publishing, according to the report. “Residents of smaller towns are also the most likely to worry about what would happen if the local newspaper no longer existed.”

Rural area residents are most interested in information about taxes. Other news and information on local topics holds less interest. “They are also more reliant on traditional platforms such as newspapers and TV for most of the topics we queried. And they are less likely than others to say it is easier now to keep up with local information,” the report says.