To better understand Americans’ adoption of smartphones and broadband, the Pew Research Center surveyed 1,502 American adults from January 25 to February 8, 2021, via mobile and landline. The survey was conducted by interviewees under the supervision of Abt Associates and weighted the representation of the adult population in the United States by gender, race, ethnicity, education, and other categories. Below are the questions used in this report, along with the responses, and its methodology.
Smartphone ownership (85%) and home broadband subscriptions (77%) among American adults have increased since 2019 — from 81% and 73%, respectively. Although modest, both increases are statistically significant and come at a time when the majority of Americans say the Internet has been important to them personally. And 91% of adults reported having at least one of these techniques.
A Pew Research Center survey of US adults from January 25 to February 8, 2021 also found that some Americans experience difficulties when trying to connect to the Internet. About 30% of adults say they often or occasionally have problems connecting to the Internet at home, including 9% who say such problems happen very often. However, the majority of Americans say these connection problems rarely occur (41%) or never (21%).
While there has been a slight growth in the percentage who say they subscribe to high-speed internet, about a quarter of the population still lacks a broadband internet connection at home. Non-broadband followers continue to cite financial constraints as one of the main reasons why they forgo these services. Among non-broadband users, 45% say the reason they don’t have broadband at home is because the monthly cost of a home broadband subscription is expensive, while about four in ten (37%) say the same about the cost of a device. computer. Other than cost barriers, less than half of non-users cited that they have other options for internet access or the fact that their smartphone does everything they need online as a reason for not having a high-speed internet connection at home.
Other key findings in this new survey:
- Smartphone Reliance: About 15% of adults in the United States are “smartphone-only” Internet users – that is, they have a smartphone, but no broadband connection to the home.
- Interest in getting broadband: 71% of non-broadband users say they are not interested in having such a connection at home.
These findings come from a nationally representative survey of 1,502 American adults conducted by telephone from January 25 to February. 8, 2021. The following sections detail those findings.
Adults 65 years of age or older are not likely to own a smartphone; Americans with low incomes or with a formal education are less likely to own a smartphone or have home broadband
85% of adults now say they own a smartphone, up from 81% in 2019, when the Pew Research Center last measured smartphone ownership. Some long-term patterns are evident in the center’s technology adoption studies in the new survey. Smartphone ownership is relatively common across major demographics, but there are still some big adoption gaps, including by age. While the proportion of adults 65 and older who own a smartphone has increased from 53% to 61% in the past two years, this age group remains much less likely than younger groups to report owning this type of mobile device.
As was the case in 2019, ownership rates also differ among seniors: 71% of adults aged 65-74 say they own a smartphone, but that share drops to 43% among those 75 or older.
Additionally, those who live in households with incomes of less than $30,000 and those with a high school diploma or less are less likely than those who live in higher-income households with higher levels of education to say they have this type of education. devices.
Likewise, the percentage of Americans with home broadband subscriptions has grown since 2019 — from 73% of adults who said they had one in the previous survey to 77% today. There are more pronounced differences across some demographic groups, particularly in differences by annual household income and educational attainment. For example, 92% of home-grown adults who earn $75,000 or more per year say they have broadband internet at home. But that share drops to 57% among those whose annual household income is less than $30,000. The 35 percentage point gap between these two income groups is almost double the similar gap for smartphone ownership — there is a 20 point gap between those who live in households with incomes less than $30,000 a year and those who earn $75,000 or more in households who say They own a smartphone. Educational differences follow a similar pattern.
There is still a statistically significant gap between rural residents with home broadband and suburban residents, but while the gap was 16 percentage points in 2019, today it is 7 points. As has been true in other Center surveys, significant gaps remain in home broadband adoption by race and ethnicity. White adults (80%) are more likely than black (71%) and Hispanic adults (65%) to have home broadband.
Nearly one in ten Americans say they often experience problems connecting to the Internet at home
While the majority of Americans say they rarely or never have problems connecting to the Internet at home, 30% say they experience such problems at least sometimes, including 9% of adults who say it happens often.
Relatively few Americans across major demographic groups report that they often experience problems, but some groups are more likely than others to experience this level of problems connecting to the Internet.
For example, adults ages 18 to 49 are more likely to say they have problems connecting to the Internet at home (12% vs. 6%) than those 50 or older. And adults with a college or less formal education are slightly more likely than college graduates to say they often experience these problems (11% vs. 7%). There are no significant differences between the other major demographic groups.
About three out of ten adults under the age of thirty rely on smartphones
About 15% of Americans say they have a smartphone, but no home broadband connection. Pew Research Center has been studying “smartphone-only” Internet users since 2013. Smartphone dependence is more common among young people rather than the elderly: 28% of 18-29-year-olds are in the “smartphone only” category, compared to 12% of those 30 and over.
About 27% of adults who live in a household that makes less than $30,000 a year use smartphones only. By comparison, 13% of those with household incomes from $30,000 to $74,999 and 6% of families earning $75,000 or more fall into this category. A similar pattern emerges when it comes to education: Those with a high school diploma or less are more likely to rely on a smartphone than those with a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree.
There is also a gap between Hispanic adults and whites: a quarter of Hispanic adults are smartphone-only internet users, compared to about one in ten white adults. And 17% of black adults rely on smartphones — but that share is not statistically different from their white or Hispanic counterparts.
Similar stocks of broadband users who are not broadband users cite their smartphones, cost, and alternative Internet access options as reasons for the lack of broadband.
While a growing percentage of Americans say they have a high-speed internet subscription at home, 23% don’t.
Financial barriers are among the most common reasons Americans don’t subscribe to high-speed internet at home: 45% of broadband users say it’s because the monthly subscription cost is too expensive, while about four in ten cite computer cost as expensive. .
Similar posts to other broadband users say the reason is because they have other options to access the internet outside the home (46%) or their smartphone allows them to do whatever they need to do online (45%). A small percentage of Americans (25%) say they do not have a home subscription because broadband service is not available where they live or is not available at an acceptable speed.
About 27% of adults – up from 17% in 2019 – say they don’t have broadband at home for some other reason, including 11% who said the reason is because they don’t care, don’t care, or don’t need it.
Non-broadband users were asked which of the reasons they cited were bone An important reason to not have a broadband subscription at home. About 27% of non-broadband users say the most important reason for not having broadband at home is cost – including 20% who say a monthly broadband subscription is too expensive and 7% who say a computer is too expensive.
About one in five adults (19%) say the most important reason they don’t have broadband at home is that their smartphone does everything they need to do online. Looking specifically at Americans who are dependent on smartphones, three out of ten say their smartphones do everything they need on the internet is the single most important reason for not having broadband at home. This share has not changed significantly as of 2019.
Younger respondents (9% each) say the most important reason they don’t have high-speed internet at home is that they have other options to access internet outside of the home or broadband service is unavailable, or not available at an acceptable speed, where they live.
About 22% of non-broadband users cited another reason as the most important for not having broadband at home, up from 13% in 2019.
Most of those who do not have home broadband are not interested in getting it in the future
Nearly seven out of ten broadband users (71%) say they would. not Interest in getting broadband at home, while 25% think a home broadband subscription is something they are interested in. This is not a statistically significant increase from the 2019 survey, when 18% said they were interested in getting broadband at home.
In past polls for the center, Americans have indicated that they believe the lack of broadband could be linked to a number of drawbacks — including difficulties finding work or denial of access to government services.