Mobile is the Needle, Social is the Thread: How Information Today is Woven Into Our Lives

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Associate Director for Research Kristen Purcell will share Pew Internet data on the rapid growth of mobile connectivity and social networking in the U.S., focusing on how information consumption patterns are changing in light of these two technological developments, at the annual Radiodays Europe conference in Barcelona, Spain.


  • 1. Mobile is the Needle,Social is the ThreadHow Information Today is Woven Into Our Lives Kristen Purcell, Ph.D. Associate Director, Research Pew Internet Project Radiodays Europe March 15-16, 2012 Barcelona, Spain
  • 2. Part of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank based in Washington, DC PRCs mission is to provide high quality, objective data to thought leaders and policymakers Data for this talk is from nationally representative telephone surveys of U.S. adults and teens (on landlines and cell phones) Presentation slides and all data are available at
  • 3. Internet Use in the U.S. in 2000 Slow, stationary connections 46% of US adults used the internet built around a desktop computer 5% had home broadband connections 53% owned a cell phone 0% connected to internet wirelessly 0% used social network sites __________________________Information flowed mainly one way Information consumption was a stationary activity
  • 4. The Internet in 2012 Mobile devices have82% of US adults use the internet, fundamentally changed the 76% of whom are online on any relationship between given day information, time and space 2/3 have broadband at home Information is now portable, participatory, and 88% have a cell phone; 46% are personal smartphone users 14% have a tablet computer 2/3 are wireless internet users 65% of online adults use SNS
  • 5. The Very Nature of Information Has Changed Information Information was is Scarce All around us Expensive Cheap or free Shaped and controlled Shaped and controlled by by elites consumers and networks Designed for one-way, Designed for sharing, mass consumption participation and feedback Slow moving Immediate External to our worlds Embedded in our worlds
  • 6. Information is Woven Into Our LivesMobile is the needle, Social Networks are the thread Mobile Social Networks Moves information Surround us with with us information through our many connections Makes informationaccessible ANYTIME Bring us information and ANYWHERE from multiple, varied sources Puts information at our fingertips Provide instant feedback, meaning and contextMagnifies the demandfor timely information Allow us to shape and create information Makes information ourselves and amplify location-sensitive others messages
  • 7. Mobile is the Needle: 88% of US Adults Have a Cell Phone % in each age group who have a cell phone 46% of US adults now own smartphones, up from 35% in Spring 2011 Highest among young adults: 67% of 18-24 year-olds Teen data July 2011 Adult data Feb 2012 71% of 25-34 year-olds
  • 8. Mobile is the Needle That Weaves Information Throughout Our World% of US adult cell owners who use their phones to
  • 9. Overall, if you had to use one single word to describe how you feel about your cell phone, what would that one word be?
  • 10. How Phones Function In Our Lives% of US adult cell owners who had done each of the following in the past 30 days
  • 11. Tablet and E-reader Use is GrowingPercent of US adults 18+ who own each type of gadget 88% Tablet ownership rose from 57% 4% to 14% 55% between September 2010 14% 14% and February 2012 Cell Phone Laptop Desktop Tablet e-Reader Computer Based on Pew Internet Tracking Surveys, 2011-2012Tablet and e-reader ownership is highest among. college graduates adults with household incomes of $75,000+
  • 12. Apps: From Superhighway to BypassOne in three US adults download apps to a cell phone or tablet computer Apps provide direct connections to information % of app downloaders who have downloaded each type of app App downloading is highest among young adults age 18-29 Based on August 2011 Pew Internet Tracking Survey
  • 13. Into the Future: Apps and Augmented Reality
  • 14. Social Networks are the Threads That Connect Us65% of US adults use social networking sites Consistent rates across gender,race/ethnicity, and income groups
  • 15. Why We Use Social Networks
  • 16. Social Networks and Social Cohesion For networked individuals, information is embeddedA Pew study finds that contrary to fears the and ambient internet isolates people... Facebook usersare more trustingthan other adults Facebook users have more close relationships Facebook users get more social support than other adults
  • 17. Social Networks Give Rise to News Participators In January 2010, 37% of internet users contributed to, commented on, or disseminated news content via SNS 71% got news/info through email or SNS posts _________________________________________________ In January 2011, 41% of adults were local news participators Share links to local stories/videos Comment on local news stories/blogs Post information about their community on SNS Contribute to online discussions about their community Tag or categorize local content Post articles/photos/videos about their community
  • 18. Most Popular Online Sources for News and Information Portal Sites 56% TV News Org Site 46% Special Topic Site 38% Newspaper Site 38%Indiv or Org on SNS 30% Intl News Org site 18% % of online news consumers who use each source on a typical day Based on Jan 2010 Pew Internet Survey
  • 19. The Culture of Shared Information Popular features of online news sites. 68 The mostLinks to related material 72 48 popular Multi-media content 57 features allowPortal/News aggregator 48 people to 55 interact with, 44 Easily share content 57 share, and 42 customize Customize news 48 their Interactive material 38 45 information. 37 This is Ability to comment 51 especially true Follow on soc media 25 for young 39 adults. Total 18-29 Based on Jan 2010 Pew Internet Survey
  • 20. Information is Directly Embedded in Our Environments Convergence of physical and digital worldsThe Internet Networked objects of Things Immersive environments Information is no longer external to our world, but woven into its very fabric
  • 21. All data available at Kristen Purcell, Ph.D. Associate Director, Research Pew Research Centers Internet & American Life Project Twitter: @pewinternet @kristenpurcell


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