Magazine article Information Today

Pew Study: Inside the Tech Generation

Magazine article Information Today

Pew Study: Inside the Tech Generation

Article excerpt

Imagine a world without cell phones or computers. For some people, this notion might be simply inconceivable, and it usually depends on your generation.

If you're an American adult, chances are you own a cell phone. But that's not surprising. In a Pew Internet & American Life Project report titled "Generations and Their Gadgets" by Kathryn Zickuhr, published in early February, researchers found that 85% of all adults own a cell phone. However, the bigger revelation is that cell phone ownership significantly decreases in older generations: Whereas only 48% of adults older than 75 own a cell phone, that number increases substantially to 95% for those adults who are younger than age 34.

This report supports the idea that Generation Y, or the Millennial Generation, is really the "tech generation." In the study, researchers explored the technology gaps among generations, drawing conclusions about the most widely used gadgets and about the device use of each generation.

Cell phones were "by far the most popular device among adults," but the study also looked at computers, MP3 players, game consoles, ebook readers, and tablet computers.

The report divided the adult population into six generations: Millennials (ages 18-34), Generation X (35-46), Younger Boomers (47-56), Older Boomers (57-65), the Silent Generation (66-74), and the G.I. Generation (75-plus). After conducting 3,001 successful surveys from Aug. 9 to Sept. 13, 2010, researchers concluded that for all adults, the most popular tech gadgets were cell phones and computers, with more than half of the entire population owning these devices. MP3 players and game consoles were moderately popular, but most usage was among the younger generations; e-readers and tablet computers were the least popular devices across the board.


With computers as the second-most prominent devices for any adult, the Pew survey polled individuals about desktop computers and laptop computers. In every generation except for the Millennials, desktop PCs were more popular than laptops, but an adult younger than 34 was more likely to own a laptop than a desktop. Though the youngest generation usually had the highest percentages of gadget use for each device, adults from Gen X and the Baby Boomer groups were more likely to own desktop computers than Millennials.


Adults in the Millennial and Gen X generations proved to be the most tech-savvy. While about 75% of adults younger than 34 owned an iPod or other MP3 player and 63% of adults younger than 46 owned game consoles such as Xbox or PlayStation, these devices were owned by less than 50% of all adults on average. …

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