Smartphone Internet access and use: Extending the digital divide and usage gap

Eric Tsetsi, Stephen A. Rains

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


This study uses survey data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project to advance digital divide research by exploring how smartphone dependence—in which one’s only means of accessing the Internet is via a smartphone—and smartphone use differ between key demographic groups in the United States. Results show differences in smartphone dependence and use based on race, age, income, and education. Minority group members, younger, lower income, and less educated users are more likely to be smartphone-dependent. Additionally, minorities and younger individuals use smartphones for more social activity, while White, younger, and higher income individuals use smartphones for more news/information activity. Findings support the usage gap hypothesis and suggest smartphones may act as both a bridge and a barrier for disadvantaged groups to overcome the digital divide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-255
Number of pages17
JournalMobile Media and Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • device gap
  • digital divide
  • knowledge gap
  • mobile Internet
  • smartphones
  • usage gap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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