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Pew: Smartphones Top Computers for 18-29s

The really small screen is making really big inroads on younger content consumers.

For the first time since Pew has been tracking device ownership, more younger adults (18-29) have a smart phone (86%) than own a computer (78%).

That is according to a new Pew Research Center report released Thursday (Oct. 29).

Computer ownership in the demo is down from 89% in 2012 (the last time the question was asked), while smart phone ownership is up from 65% in 2012. The question of computer ownership was not asked in the 2013 and 2014 surveys, so the tipping point may have come earlier, but it is definitely here now.

Tablet ownership has also shown strong growth, up from 32% in the demo in 2012 to 50% in 2015.

For all ages, 68% of those surveyed say they own a smartphone, while 45% have a tablet.

The surveys found that smartphone ownership for the 18-49 demo and those in higher income brackets are close to "saturation adoption" (approaching nine out of 10), but found no ownership differences by race or ethnic group.

Of the seven devices Pew polled, Cell phones, including smartphones, are the most commonly owned device among all U.S. adults at 92%, followed by computers at 73%, smartphones at 68%, tablets at 45%, MP3 players still hanging on at 40%, game consoles also at 40%, E-book readers at 19%, and portable gaming devices at only 14%.

The report was based on two surveys. One was a Princeton Data telephone survey conducted March 17-April 12 among 1,907 adults 18 and over. The smartphone data was from phone interviews July 12, 2015 among 2,001 adults 18 and over. The margin of error for the first survey was plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. The plus or minus for the 18-29 survey was 6 percentage points.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.