According to a new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project:
- 75 percent of all Americans own a cell phone or personal data assistant (PDA)
- 58 percent of adults have used a cell phone or PDA for at least one of ten non-voice activities
Those non-voice, wireless activities include email, texting, photos, web-surfing, playing music, playing a game, watching a video, getting directions or a map, instant messaging and recording a video.
The numbers, 75 percent and 58 percent, show how deeply wireless communication has penetrated the population, but they drop dramatically for older demographics. While 85 percent of 18-29 year olds have sent or received text messages, only 11 percent of people 65 and older have. And although 34 percent of the youngest group have recorded a video on a wireless device, only 3 percent of elders have. You can see graphic representations of all the stats in the Pew report [pdf].
Still, it is heartening to know that 29 percent of online users 65 and older have logged on away from work or home using a wireless laptop.
While elders lag behind young folks in adoption of technology, the numbers are remarkable when you remember that people older than 65 did not grow up with technology as the 20-somethings have and often, too, they retired before computers, cell phones, etc. were ubiquitous at work. They’ve had to teach themselves, sometimes with help from their adult children or grandchildren, but often not.
The most fun part of the survey asked which technologies would be very hard to give up. Among the 18-29 set, cell phones came in first at 62 percent; only 37 percent of those 65 and older agreed. The device hardest for elders to give up would be a landline telephone, 60 percnt, while only 25 percent of the youngest group cared about that.
I ditched my landline telephone several years ago and live with VoIP and a cell phone now. If I had to choose one, I’d take the cell phone. I like television for news and for entertainment when I’m tired, although I could easily turn it off permanently. But email and the internet are like heat and hot water; I could get by without them in extreme circumstances for short periods of time, but they are now essential to my daily life. What about you?
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mort Reichek will undoubtedly get a lot of clicks on My Sex Life in the Army.]