Pew Study Shows Digital Age Divide

Mobile Video Viewers Overwhelmingly in Younger Demo

A new Pew Research Center study shows a significant age divide in the use of smart phones to access Internet video.

Three-quarters of younger smartphone owners (75%) indicated using their device to watch videos at least once during a one-week study period, compared with 46% of those 30-49 and only 31% of those 50-plus in the same time period.

Overall, half the smartphone users surveyed, of all ages, said they used their phones to watch video at least once a week, though that was trumped by the number of respondents who used their devices for texting (97%), surfing the 'Net (89%), emailing (88%), social networking (75%), taking photos or video (60%), and even making phone calls (92%).

Almost a third (31%) said they used the phones to "avoid people around you" (that figure was 47% for 18-29s), and more than half used them to settle arguments. The vast majority of 18-29s (93%) also said they used their phones to "avoid being bored."

The study found that almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) now have a smart phone -- up from 54% just a year ago and from 35% in 2011 -- and of those, 19% say they are "smartphone dependent" to some degree, either because they did not have other broadband access at home, or because they said they had "few" options for broadband access other than their phones.

The vast majority -- 85% -- said they have high-speed Internet access at home via cable, DSL, FiOS or satellite Internet service.

The Pew study was based on three separate surveys. The ownership survey was based on telephone surveys conducted Dec. 4-7 and Dec. 18-21, 2014, among 2,002 adults. The margin of error for the total sample is plus-or-minus 2.5 percentage points. The usage study over one week was an American Trends Panel “experience sampling” survey, conducted Nov. 10-16, 2014, among 1,635 respondents. The margin of error is plus-or-minus four percentage points. The general use study -- questions about bills, data plans and app charges -- was based on an Oct. 3-27, 2014, survey of 3,181 respondents (2,875 by Web and 306 by mail), including the 2,188 smartphone owners who answered those questions. The margin of error for those was plus-or-minus 2.7 percentage points.