This week, we’ll finally get to see Obama and Romney go head-to-head on-stage for the first time. The first debate will take place this Wednesday evening, and I’m looking forward to all of the political posts that are going to bombard my Facebook news feed on Thursday. I predict there will be a few unfriendings this week.
If you own a smartphone or a tablet, chances are, you’ll be reading all about the debates on-the-go, while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or stopped at a red light (don’t do that). A study released Monday by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism found that fully 64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners use their device for news consumption at least weekly. The news now ranks as one of the top activities that people engage in on their mobile devices, along with playing games and emailing.
More than one in five U.S. adults now owns a tablet (22%) and 44% of U.S. adults own a smartphone (up from 35% in May 2011), which means that one-third of all U.S. adults get their news on a mobile device at least once a week.
Mobile devices have been pretty liberating for those who like catching up on the latest news, but don’t have time to sit down and read the paper. I learned the hard way that having a newspaper subscription doesn’t mean you actually read the paper more often. These days, the newspaper is just something I hand to my baby to shred when I need some quiet time. Sad, but true.
That said, one might assume that if more people are reading the news on their mobile devices, than they’re probably just catching brief little snippets here and there. But it turns out that many mobile users actually read in-depth news stories. Some 73% of tablet owners say that they read in-depth news stories from their device at least sometimes, and 19% say they do so every day. Some 61% of smartphone owners say they read in-depth news stories from their device at least sometimes, while 11% say they do so regularly.
Interestingly, while mobile devices allow users to get their news anywhere, at any time, most still continue to access news content on their smartphones and tablets in the comfort of their own homes—and most do so just once a day. As you might expect, smartphone owners are more likely than tablet owners to say that they accessed the news outside of the home, while fully 85% of news readers with tablets say they access news content during the week from the comfort of their own home (on weekends, it’s a whopping 92%).
Additionally, while most news sources have their own apps now, most mobile users continue to rely on browsers, with 60% of tablet owners and 61% of smartphone owners saying they get their news mostly via browsers.
The study polled over 9,500 U.S. adults, 2,000 of whom owned tablets and 3,900 of whom owned smartphones.
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