Studies: Mobile Devices Driving Force in Teen, General Internet Usage

Mobile devices play an important role in the online lives of both the general American populace and teens in particular, two studies released in April by the Pew Research Center suggest.

Nearly a quarter of teens (24%) are online “almost constantly,” in large part because they have access to smartphones. An overwhelming majority of people (92% on average) go online daily; frequent Internet usage among teens with mobile devices specifically is even higher, with 94% going online at least once each day.

Just how many teens have access to mobile devices? The Pew data suggest that nearly 75% have their own smartphone or access to another smartphone, 30% have access to a basic cell phone, and only 12% have no cell phones of any type.

Only 6% of teens use the Internet only once each week, and a mere 2% use it even less frequently than that. Teens without mobile devices are far less likely to go online daily than their smartphone-owning peers, but that figure still hovers over two-thirds at 68%.

“These studies support all of the trends we have seen recently which is precisely why we have attempted to stay ahead of the curve in terms of making certain that all of our clients’ sites are mobile responsive,” says John Diaz, General Manager, On Top Visibility. “This is critical as more and more search queries are being done on mobile devices. Another factor feeding into this is that usage of voice to text as a means of search is increasing rapidly as well with mobile as the go to for these types of searches.”

Teens aren’t the only group that relies heavily on smart mobile devices for online activities. A separate report released by Pew early this month found that 19% of Americans rely on their smartphones for Internet access, either because they don’t have broadband Internet connections at home or because they don’t have other means of access.

A full 7% of Americans, the study found, have neither a traditional wired Internet connection at home nor alternative devices.

According to Pew’s latest surveys, 64% of Americans now own smartphones. That’s close to double what it was around this time of year in 2011, when only 35% owned smartphones.

While applicable to numerous industries, these statistics show in particular that businesses have a significant incentive to prioritize mobile friendly websites and other mobile communication strategies. The studies come in the same month that Google has even begun factoring mobile compatibility into its ranking algorithms for search engine results.

“Now that Google is increasing the importance of a site’s mobile responsiveness in its ranking algorithms the day of reckoning has arrived,” Diaz adds. “Businesses whose sites are not mobile responsive will soon see a significant impact in their mobile rankings. It’s not too late but the time to act is now.”

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