In the United States, 31 percent are "highly tech-savvy" people for whom the Internet, cell phones and handheld organizers are more indispensable than TVs and old-fashioned wired phones, according to a study released Sunday.
John Horrigan, author of the report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, said the size of this "tech elite" was somewhat surprising. And while this group is predominantly young, the Pew researchers found plenty of baby boomers and seniors who are equally ardent about using technology.
The difference, though, is that techies in their late teens and 20s are more likely to create online content, like Web logs, or "blogs." Generation Xers are more likely to pay for content on the Web, while wired boomers and seniors generally plumb the Internet for news or to do work-related research.
Among the Pew findings on the "tech elite:"
- They spend, on average, a total of $169 a month on broadband Internet service, satellite or cable TV, cell phones and Web content. That is 39 percent higher than the national average, $122.
- Some 29 percent have broadband connections, compared with 17 percent of everyone else.
- About 7 percent have canceled their land line telephone and gone all-wireless. Only 2 percent of nontechies have done that.
- Despite being plugged in to the Internet and other sources of data more often, only 13 percent of the tech-savvy crowd feels overwhelmed by information. By contrast, a sense of information overload plagues 25 percent of the rest of the population.
It could be that technology helps some people organize or take control of their lives, Horrigan said. Or maybe some are simply better at knowing "what to do and how to cope with the information that is flooding at them," he said.
Pew produced the report after surveying 1,677 American adults in October. The survey has a margin of error of two percentage points.
By Brian Bergstein