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updated 5/14/2012 11:21:20 AM ET 2012-05-14T15:21:20

An overwhelming majority of smartphone owners now use their device’s built-in GPS in some way, a new study finds. Based on a survey of 2,253 adults in January and February, the Pew Internet & American Life Center reports that 74 percent of smartphone users now get real-time location-based information or directions from their smartphones, up from 55 percent a year ago.

Most of those smartphone owners are retrieving directions or information, such as local business searches or tourist attractions. Just 18 percent check in to locations using apps such as Foursquare or Facebook. However, that’s up from 12 percent last year.

Check-ins are more popular with teens and young adults: Nearly a quarter of smartphone owners ages 18 to 24 use those services, which indicates the relaxed attitudes toward privacy among today’s youth. Fourteen percent of people 50 and older use check-in apps, and 64 percent of them use some type of GPS service.

What’s behind the difference? It could be that younger users have grown up in an age of social media and Facebook, so sharing the details of their lives has become part of who they are -- for better or worse.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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