Wireless Access Affects Online Behavior

A new report from PEW Internet in American Life reveals that..

Some 34% of internet users have logged onto the internet using a wireless connection either around the house, at their workplace, or some place else. *

In Wireless Internet Access, John Horrigan reports of all Internet users, 27% have logged on to the Internet wirelessly at places other than home or work, 19% have access to wireless networks at home, and 13% have PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) that can access wireless networks.  What is most interesting to me (and I’m not sure why yet) is the number of wireless Internet users who access the Net without cables from places other than home or work.  Not surprising (given the cost of wireless routers) 88% of wireless users do so at home.  However, more than half of wireless users (57%) access the Internet outside of home/work environments.  This would include hotels, coffee shops and other service environments, libraries, and the growing number of municipal wireless regions.

To me, this report points to increasing opportunities to access the Internet for information in more casual (not requiring direct wiring) contexts, and our predilection toward doing so.  As someone who is interesting in determining the literacy skills we should be helping our children to develop, I am curious about what people do with wireless access to the Internet.  Do they connect for a specific information experience, such as reading a particular blog or aggregation of blogs, or are they conducting research, googling a sudden topic of interest.  Or are they doing work or homework.

In other words, is this new.  For years we’ve carried books with us to read at the coffee shop, under a tree, or on the train.  We haven’t, however, carried encyclopedias around with us, and we haven’t made a habit of working so casually outside of the context of our workplaces.  Does this really constitute a change in information behavior — an even deeper reliance on distant information?

The study did indicate that wireless users do tend to get their personal correspondence and new more regularly than do non-wireless users —

Wireless Home
Broadband
All Internet
Users
E-mail Each Day 72% 63% 54%
Get News Each Day 46% 38% 31%

* Horrigan, John. “Wireless Internet Access.” Reports: Internet Evolution. 25 Feb 2007. PEW Internet in American Life Project. 26 Feb 2007 <http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/203/report_display.asp>.
Image Citation:
Laurent, Olivier. “Wifi.” Olivier C. Laurent’s Photostream. 22 Sept 2006. 26 Feb 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/olivierclaurent/250099408/>.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.