Age, gender influence how people use smartphones and tablets for news

2013 RJI Mobile Media Research Report 5

More than half of all smartphone and tablet news consumers questioned by RJI in 2013 indicated that they had watched videos within news websites or apps during the week prior to taking the survey.

Adult male news consumers at all ages were more likely than adult female news consumers to watch videos on smartphones. With tablets, female news consumers aged 18-34 and 55 or older were more likely than male news consumers to watch videos within news websites or apps.

Of the 10 actions relating to news addressed in this year’s survey, men were more likely than women overall to have used a smartphone to perform all but one — take advantage of deals or coupons.

With large tablets, women were equal to or more likely than men overall to perform four of the actions — watch videos; make buying decisions, purchases or reservations; take advantage of deals or coupons; and respond to breaking news alerts. Women aged 18-34 were equal to or more likely than men of the same age to perform three other actions.

When smartphone news consumers were asked whether they preferred reading news stories within mobile apps or web browsers, 52 percent overall indicated a preference for Web browsers.

Among those who indicated that they preferred web browsers, 46 percent overall were women. Of those who said they preferred mobile apps, 39 percent overall were women.

For smartphone users, responsive web design, which adapts content to smaller screens, may be blurring the distinctions between apps and browsers.

When large tablet news consumers were asked whether they preferred scrolling single columns of text (Web-like) or swiping pages (print-like), 46 percent overall said they preferred scrolling to 41 percent overall who preferred swiping. The remaining 13 percent said they had no preference.

However, age and gender differences suggest that for most tablet users scrolling and swiping may not be an either/or choice. Preferences are likely to be determined by what they do with their tablets most frequently, e.g. reading documents, surfing the Web, gaming, etc.

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