Technology trends among older and younger Americans

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Last updated April 12, 2019

A new study makes it clear that cell phone and internet use is much more common among younger age groups in the U.S. than among the older population. This in and of itself may not come as much of a surprise, but some of its implications may raise a few eyebrows. Americans have long been accustomed to thinking of television as the number one tech device with which we entertain ourselves. While that remains true for older Americans, those who are 29 years old or younger report that the biggest tech-based consumer of their time is the internet, followed very closely by cell phones.

In contrast, people in the under-29 age group were quite reluctant to admit to spending too much time using email. This likely reveals an underlying attitude: email is regarded purely as a tool, and therefore used as needed to accomplish worthy goals. Cell phones and the internet as a whole, however, are perceived much more broadly as gateways to entertainment opportunities, much as the television is for older Americans.

The study, conducted by Gallup tracking poll, illustrates most keenly the reliance that younger Americans are placing on these newer forms of technology. A simple survey of schools will also bear this out. The average high school student owns a cell phone, according to anecdotal data, and American parents can verify that even students in elementary schools are clamoring for them as well, claiming that “all their friends” already have one.