Gadget Fans: Trends by Generation

If you are a U.S. citizen anywhere from 18 to 34 years old, there's a 95 percent chance that you own a cell phone, according to new research from Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

And there's only a 1 percent chance that a Millennial owns none of the following devices: a cellphone, a desktop computer, a laptop computer, an iPod or MP3 player, an electronic game console, an e-book reader, or a tablet. Which, I think, makes one Amish.

The study attempted to sort out gadget ownership by generation. There's a handy chart below, but here are some interesting highlights:

  • Cell phone ownership declines as generations get older, though 84 percent of Older Boomers (57-65) own the devices.
  • The only age group in which less than 50 percent own cellphones is what Pew calls the G.l. Generation (age 75 and older).
  • Forty-eight percent of them own cell phones. Pew doesn't make a distinction between cell phones and smartphones. Hopefully it will in the next survey.
  • Desktop computer ownership peaks in the Gen X generation (35-46), with 69 percent owning one of those quaint machines. Fifty-two percent of all adult Americans own laptops, but only Millennials (70 percent) and Gen X (61 percent) top 50 percent.
  • Three percent of the G.I. Generation own iPods or mp3 players. Big-band music never sounded so good.

Interestingly, the generation with the highest percentage of e-book reader ownership is Younger Boomers (47-56), at 7 percent, followed by Silent Generation members at 6 percent; maybe at least some of them are quiet because they're reading. The youngest two generations (Millennials and Gen X) lead in tablet ownership, with 5 percent each.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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