This report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is part of a series exploring how different generations use technology. The generation labels used, with the exceptions of “Younger Boomers” and “Older Boomers,” are the names conventionalized by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book, Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069 (Perennial, 1992). The Pew Internet Project’s “Generations” reports make the distinction between Younger Boomers and Older Boomers because enough research has been done to suggest that the two decades of Baby Boomers are different enough to merit being divided into distinct generational groups
Many devices have become popular across generations, with a majority now owning cell phones, laptops and desktop computers. Younger adults are leading the way in increased mobility, preferring laptops to desktops and using their cell phones for a variety of functions, including internet, email, music, games, and video.
Among the findings:
- Cell phones are by far the most popular device among American adults, especially for adults under the age of 65. Some 85% of adults own cell phones overall. Taking pictures (done by 76% of cell owners) and text messaging (done by 72% of cell owners) are the two non-voice functions that are widely popular among all cell phone users.
- Desktop computers are most popular with adults ages 35-65, with 69% of Gen X, 65% of Younger Boomers and 64% of Older Boomers owning these devices.
Millennials are the only generation that is more likely to own a laptop computer or netbook than a desktop: 70% own a laptop, compared with 57% who own a desktop.
- While almost half of all adults own an mp3 player like an iPod, this device is by far the most popular with Millennials, the youngest generation—74% of adults ages 18-34 own an mp3 player, compared with 56% of the next oldest generation, Gen X (ages 35-46).
- Game consoles are significantly more popular with adults ages 18-46, with 63% owning these devices.
- 5% of all adults own an e-book reader; they are least popular with adults age 75 and older, with 2% owning this device.
- Tablet computers, such as the iPad, are most popular with American adults age 65 and younger. 4% of all adults own this device.
Additionally, about one in 11 (9%) adults do not own any of the devices we asked about, including 43% of adults age 75 and older.
Click here to read the full report