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Both tablets and smartphones are used by a majority of owners for keeping up with the news, but tablets are used for news by a somewhat higher percentage of owners aged 55 or older than by those aged 18-34 (see charts 6.1 and 6.5), according to the latest mobile media survey from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI). The opposite was found for news consumption on smartphones (see report 4, charts 4.1 and 4.5).

The larger tablet displays undoubtedly make reading long news and feature stories easier on the eyes for seniors, but they also make viewing movies and TV programs, as well as reading books and magazine content, more appealing to tablet owners of all ages.

The RJI survey found most owners appear to use tablets primarily as extensions to their smartphones, especially for leisure reading and watching movies, TV programs and other videos.

More than half (52 percent) of tablet owners overall said they had watched videos in the week prior to participating in the survey (see chart 6.11). About 70 percent overall said they spent more than 20 minutes with this activity in a typical day (see chart 6.12). By comparison, 41 percent of smartphone owners overall said they watched videos and 52 percent said they spent more than 20 minutes with this activity in a typical day (see report 4, charts 4.11 and 4.12).

Among RJI’s other findings about the use of large media tablets:

  • Mobile media users were found to be much less likely to interact with social media on large tablets than on smartphones. They also were much less likely to read news found within social media on large tablets than on smartphones (see charts 6.7 and 6.9, and report 4, charts 4.7 and 4.9).
  • The percentages of large tablet owners who said they read books on their tablets were three times greater than the percentages of smartphone owners who said they read books on their smartphones (see chart 6.16 and report 4, chart 4.16).
  • Mobile media users also were more likely to read magazine content on large tablets than on smartphones. The difference was greatest for tablet owners aged 55 or older (see chart 6.17 and report 4, chart 4.17).
  • About one-third (33 percent) of large tablet owners overall said they had made purchases or reservations using their tablets in the week prior to taking the survey. Smartphone owners were slightly less likely to use their smartphones to make purchases or reservations in the same period. As with reading magazine content, the difference was greatest for tablet owners aged 55 or older (see chart 6.15 and report 4, chart 4.15).

Coming soon: Report 7 explores how tablet ownership influences news consumption on smartphones.

Nearly 1,200 randomly selected U.S. adults participated in RJI’s third annual Mobile Media News Consumption survey between Jan. 1 and March 31. This phone survey focused exclusively on the use of smartphones and touch-screen tablets with mobile operating systems. RJI’s previous surveys included questions about the use of e-readers and other Internet-enabled mobile devices, such as netbooks, tablet PCs, hand-held computers and ultra-light notebooks.

Roger Fidler  
 
Program Director for Digital Publishing (Retired)



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