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The use of wireless devices to access the Internet is soaring, according to a report released by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
Pew's "Wireless Internet Use" report found that 56% of adult Americans have accessed the Web using wireless devices ranging from laptops and mobile devices to game consoles and MP3 players.
Mobile handsets are particularly on the rise as a means for accessing the Internet, the report noted. On a typical day in April 2009, 19% of Americans used their cell phones or smartphones to go online, a 73% increase over December 2007. Altogether, 32% of Americans have used a mobile device for e-mailing, instant messaging, or seeking information, compared to 24% at the end of 2007.
In a statement, Pew's John Horrigan, the author of the report, said, "Mobile access strengthens the three pillars of online engagement: connecting with others, satisfying information queries, and sharing content with others. With access in their pockets, many Americans are 'on the fly' consumers and producers of digital information."
The most active users of the mobile Internet, according to the report, were African Americans; 29% go online with a handheld device on an average day, compared to 17% of white Americans. The report found that African Americans are 70% more likely than white Americans to have accessed the Internet from a handheld device.
"The notion of a digital divide for African Americans has some resonance when thinking about the wireline Internet," said Horrigan. "But when you introduce the mobile Internet, the picture changes and African Americans are the pace setters."
Non-voice data activities are also becoming popular lures for accessing the Internet with mobile devices. These non-voice activities include checking e-mail, sending or receiving text messages, taking pictures, playing games, accessing the Web, recording videos, instant messaging, playing music, watching videos, or getting maps or directions.
The report is based on an April 2009 survey of 2,253 Americans.
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