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June 12, 2017, 12:15 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK:   ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   June 12, 2017

Most people in the U.S. — 85 percent of U.S. adults — have used a mobile device to access news at some point, up from around just 50 percent in 2013. But put aside any assumptions about which groups of people are responsible for the big increases.

More than two thirds (67 percent) of Americans aged 65 and older get news on a mobile device (in 2016, that number was 43 percent; in 2013, it was 22 percent). Mobile news consumption among 50- to 64-year-olds also increased sharply over the past four years.

These numbers are all according to a Pew Research study. Pew surveyed people in March of this year. Monday’s findings are part of a larger report published last month about the partisan divide in media consumption and perception of the role of media, which found that Democrats were driving an increase in use of mobile devices to access news.

Lower-income households are also increasingly getting their news via mobile: 79 percent of adults in households making less than $30,000 annually have accessed news on a mobile device (in 2013, it was 37 percent).

For one group, 18 to 29-year-olds, the growth in using mobile devices for news seems to have plateaued. There’s an obvious explanation:

Mobile news use, like internet use and mobile ownership in general, was already very high among younger adults, leaving little room for growth compared with older adults. For example, 94 percent of both those ages 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 get news on mobile — unchanged since 2016 for 18- to 29-year-olds and only a 9-point rise for the 30-49 group. By contrast, among those ages 50 to 64 and those 65 and older, increases of 16 and 24 points respectively in the past year have resulted in majorities in every age group now getting news on mobile. A recent Pew Research Center report similarly found a sharp rise in overall technology adoption among older Americans.

The older adults in the Pew survey, though, may be getting their news via mobile grudgingly. Only 44 percent of Americans 65 and older said they actually prefer using a mobile device to get their news — most prefer a desktop computer or laptop — compared to 65 percent of among all adults who prefer getting their news via mobile. (Unsurprisingly, there’s been no real growth in accessing news via desktop or laptop.)

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