Access to the internet is changing. Teens and adults no longer access the internet solely from a computer or laptop. They now go online via cell phones, game consoles and portable gaming devices in addition to their home desktop or laptop computer.
Overall the computer remains the most popular way for teens to go online, with 93% of teens with a desktop or laptop computer using the device to go online. But other more portable technologies are also now providing new paths to the internet. Among teen cell phone users, more than a quarter (27%) say they use their cell phone to go online. Similarly, 24% of teens with a game console (like a PS3, Xbox or Wii) use it to go online. Other handheld gaming devices also allow internet connectivity—among teens with a portable gaming device, about one in five (19%) use it for this purpose.
Adults and wireless internet access
Most adult internet users (63%) access the internet using multiple devices; this is especially true of adult internet users younger than age 50, of whom 70% access the internet with more than one device.
As of September 2009, 54% of adults accessed the internet wirelessly. The most common means of wireless access among adults is the laptop computer, with 38% of American adults reporting that they access the internet this way. Accessing the internet via a handheld device is as common among adults as access via a laptop—35% of adults report that they access the internet using a cell phone or other handheld device. One in seven adults (14%) access the internet wirelessly through a device other than a laptop or cell phone such as a gaming device.
Young adults, African-Americans and Hispanics more likely to go online wirelessly
Wireless rates are especially high among adults under age 30; eight in ten adults between the ages of 18 and 29 (81%) are wireless internet users. That figure drops to 63% among 30-49 year olds, and 34% among adults age 50 and older. Roughly half of 18-29 year olds have accessed the internet wirelessly on a laptop (54%) or on a cell phone (55%), and about one quarter of 18-29 year olds (28%) have accessed the internet wirelessly on a device other than a laptop or cell phone.
Among internet users, white adults are less likely than both African Americans and Hispanics to use the internet wirelessly. African Americans are the most active users of the mobile internet, and their use is growing at a faster pace than mobile internet use among whites or Hispanics. While African-Americans are less likely than whites to use laptops to access the internet, they are more likely to use other mobile devices such as cell phones. Half of all African-American adults (48%) have used their cell phone to access the internet, compared with 40% of Hispanic adults and just 31% of white adults.
Men, and adults with high income and education levels are the most likely to access the internet wirelessly.
Gender, education, and income are all related to wireless internet use. Overall, men are slightly more likely than women to be wireless. While men are no more likely than women to use wireless laptop connections, they are more likely to access the internet wirelessly via a cell phone or other device. Wireless internet use, particularly wireless laptop use, is positively correlated with educational attainment and household income. While wireless cell use and wireless internet use via other devices is also positively correlated with educational attainment and income, the impact is not as strong.