Gadgets and toys

If my house is anything to go by there’s been a significant increase in the number of electronic toys and gadgets that have appeared over the past few years, most notably mobile phones and gaming consoles – as well as the usual computers and laptops. The numbers increase again every time my childrens’ friends come to stay or play, each with their own phone(s), MP3 player or PSP etc.

Of course, based on such a snapshot it would be easy to make assumptions and apply these across the board – which is why it’s useful to read reports like the recent PEW Internet report on Generations and their gadgets, based on a survey of 3,001 American adults (ages 18 and older) conducted between August 9 and September 13, 2010.

Key findings in the report include:

  • 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.

The report contains a number of graphs that show the actual distribution by age of the users and owners of these technologies, revealing, not surprisingly, a higher level of ownership among younger people. Interesting in this regard was the fact that about one in 11 (9%) adults do not own any of the devices we asked about, including 43% of adults age 75 and older.

For me a couple of key things I found interesting…

  • While mobile phone ownership is high, the actual use is largely confined to phoning and texting – we’ve still to see the potential take-up realised in terms of using these for web apps etc.I wonder to what extent this is due to the plans offered by telcos, as there are certainly the numbers of phones out there that are internet capable.
  • The fact that e-reader ownership is still relatively low – and distributed across all ages. Again, the trending that is currently predicted has yet to be revealed in these stats. Perhaps the 2011 survey will be different?

4 thoughts on “Gadgets and toys

  1. It will be interesting to watch the changes that unfold over 2011! I am interested to know what research has been done ‘down under’ Derek. PEW is a credible source but based on an American study. It is increasingly obvious that NZ and Australian trends are not always the same. What does it look like here? Who researches this in NZ and what seem to be the similarities/differences? I think we need a new pool of info with stats from our side of the world. Some You Tube videos with our data rather than what is happening in USA.

    1. Hi Cheryl
      I agree completely with the need for credible data from the NZ end. We’ve had the annual 20/20 Trust reports now for several years, which provide a useful insight into the patterns of ICT development within schools, but nothing really happening in terms of what the PEW internet group do. Of course, I find the PEW stuff useful because of the way in which the US is so often held up as an example of being so far ahead of us, and yet the stats reveal what we feel and know in our gut is perhaps the same in NZ.
      MMMmmm – now to go and look for some funding to undertake the research in the NZ context….

  2. Technology will always have a lasting impact in our lives. I recently sent my old phones which i once treasured to a recycling company. They were Cash 4 Phones and they provided a fast and excellent service. I would highly recommend them to anyone. Especially as the frequency of new phones being released is also rapidly increasing, its best to send them to a company who make best use out of them for cash.

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