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Data Sheet – College Demographic Smartphone Ownership & Usage


Smartphones have become synonymous with the college student population. For many college students, their lives revolve around their smartphones.

Pew Research Center began measuring smartphone adoption two years ago. During this time, ownership among younger adults has consistently been high, especially among those in their twenties and thirties. Research has shown that every major demographic group experienced significant year-to-year growth in smartphone ownership between 2012 and 2013.  For the first time since the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project began systematically tracking smartphone adoption, a majority of Americans now own a smartphone of some kind.

Smartphone Ownership (PEW Research)

Although growth in smartphone ownership has occurred up and down the economic spectrum, adoption still varies significantly by household income. However, that variation is unevenly distributed across different age groups. Younger adults falling within the college demographic, regardless of income level, are very likely to be smartphone owners.

• 77% of 18-29 year olds with an annual household income of less than $30,000 are smartphone owners.

Smartphones have become synonymous with the college student population. For many college students, their lives revolve around their smartphones. More than 6 in 10 claim to regularly use games (73%), music (67%), entertainment (64%) and social networking (64%) apps, with a majority also putting photo and video (53%) apps to use. College students are spending more and more of their time interacting with their devices. College Explorer reported that students are spending at least 3.6 hours a day on their cell phones and smartphones (presumably more on smartphones), up from 3.3 hours last year. In contrast, research has shown that they are spending less time with computers, TVs, handheld gaming devices, and e-readers. As demonstrated, the technology is pervasive and user-friendly. It’s only logical that we would use this powerful tool to keep our campus communities safe. (re:fuel College Explorer, 2013)

Each year our colleges are growing and expanding, so that many resemble small cities, complete with sporting arenas, shopping malls and restaurants. This expansion presents new challenges for campus officials, who are tasked with providing for the safety and security of the campus community.

Proven approaches to security have advocated a layered approach, including access control, video monitoring, emergency mass notification systems and outbound emergency alerting.

TapShield Mobile Safety ApplicaThe next layer of security, made possible by the widespread adoption of smartphones among students (90% of students will have a smartphone by 2014), is mobile inbound emergency alerting – the use of a mobile app to send an emergency alert including real-time GPS location and caller identity. TapShield’s mobile safety solution not only resonates with the college demographic, but provides first responders with the situational awareness data needed to react faster and make better decisions. When compared to traditional methods of emergency reporting, TapShield improves overall response times by up to 47%.

About TapShield

TapShield is the market leader in mobile personal safety with enterprise grade solutions for emergency notification and response. With TapShield, you can dramatically reduce incident response times, lower risk and improve personal safety. For Universities and Colleges, TapShield transforms smartphones into mobile, social safety devices and sends GPS location and enhanced caller identification to incident management systems, reducing response times by up to 47%. For corporations, TapShield provides employees and executives with an instant two-way help point that works across the globe. 


1. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, Smartphone Owvership, 2013.

2. re:fuel, College Explorer Study Outlines the Latest in Student Spending, Technology Ownership, Online Behavior and Media Usage, 2013.

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