College Students Lead in Internet Use and Tech Gadgets, Study Finds

A study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project confirms the idea that young adults—particularly undergraduate and graduate students—are more likely to use the Internet and own tech devices than is the rest of the general population.

But nonstudents ages 18 to 24 were more active on social networks than were college students, sending more updates to Facebook and Twitter.

The study was compiled using data collected from the Pew Internet Project surveys throughout 2010, and it featured a sample size of nearly 10,000 respondents.

Regardless of educational background, young adults ages 18 to 24 were generally much more likely to be Internet users, to engage in social media, and to own Web-enabled devices like laptops and smartphones. Undergraduate and graduate students were the most likely to have speedy Internet connections, with 93 percent to 95 percent citing home access to broadband.

Community-college students showed a slight edge in mobile Internet use over undergraduates and graduate students, which Aaron W. Smith, a Pew senior research specialist who compiled the study, attributed to a trend among lower socioeconomic groups to use mobile phones as their primary mode of Internet access, a finding of a previous Pew report.

The researchers were surprised by how ubiquitous the Internet has become for young people, said Mr. Smith. Nearly 100 percent of college students and 92 percent of nonstudents in the 18-24 age range were Internet users. By comparison, only 75 percent of adults nationally report using the Internet.

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