Mobile devices overtake PCs for internet access among Americans, study says

Mobile devices are supplanting PCs, and Americans overall think technology is good. But they do worry about how it will affect jobs, according to a new study.

Mobile devices overtake PCs for internet access among Americans, study says

Americans are now more likely to use their mobile devices as their main internet access tool than a PC, a new study has found (PDF).

A report published by the Heartland Monitor Poll found that 44% of users responding to a survey say that they primarily use their smartphone to access the internet, while 9% use a tablet.

Less than half of the respondents say that their "primary access point" is through a PC, with 30% saying it's a computer at home, 2% a public computer, and only 11% who said their principal method of getting online is through a work computer.

The survey, which was sponsored by Allstate, The National Journal, and The Atlantic, focused on "community in the digital age" and how Americans are "experiencing the rapid growth in consumer and communications technology," the researchers say.


Mobile device-use for Internet access gets more prevalent the younger the user. Sixty percent of Millennials use a smartphone as their "primary way to connect," the survey found.

Among seniors, on the other hand, 60% use a PC.

Latest stuff

If you're in the gadget business, this is good news, because 69% "believe it's necessary for them, personally, to have modern and up-to-date devices that let them use the latest communications."

Most also reckon that they can afford it.

Only those in the lowest income bracket, with less than $30,000 annual household income, were more likely to say that keeping up with the devices is not realistic.

The research consisted of a national sample of 1,000 adults, with half reached by mobile phone and half via landline, FTI Consulting, who was involved in the survey, said in its memo.

How Americans view tech

More good news for the tech industry is that most of the surveyed think that technology improvements are a good thing.

"Nearly four-in-five Americans, or 78%, say they're optimistic about the effects that continuing advances in computer and communications technology are having on the country," the report says.

Another 55% said quality of life is improved by the 'Digital Revolution.'


Commerce, though, saw mixed reactions in the report.

"Most Americans who shop online are choosing that method to buy travel arrangements (77%) and to buy media like books, movies, and music (57%) rather than going to a local or chain store," the report said.

However, when it came to food and groceries, only 4% of online shoppers preferred online food shopping to local businesses, which scored 58% of the online shoppers' preference.

They say they like the "exceptional and personalized customer service" they get at local businesses, in comparison to chain stores or online retailers.


Localized shopping is where the slight cracks in the respondents' preference for the internet showed.

Eighty-two percent like the fact that local businesses employ people in the community, and they think that's important.

"Americans are still looking for a local, personal touch in their interactions," the report says.


Less than half of those polled (46%) think that the 'Digital Revolution' has created jobs in the U.S., and 38% are "concerned it has eliminated jobs," the survey goes on to say.

Yet the respondents say they keep up with localized community news online, while 53% said the ability to keep in touch with people and buy products online make life better.

"On balance, most Americans think it is bringing more benefits than costs," Ron Brownstein, Atlantic Media Editorial Director and National Journal columnist, said in the study's press release.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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